Mistakes help in Madera win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Benji Molina gets handcuffed on a pitch, but reached on an error. Molina later homered for his first hit of the season in Monday’s 15-5 victory over Liberty.
The Liberty Hawks baseball team looked to have things under control after scoring two runs in the top of the first inning in a battle with the Madera Coyotes.
However, Madera sent 12 batters to the plate in a six-run first inning to take control of the game Monday on the first day of the Fresno Easter Classic and cruised to a 15-5 mercy-rule, five-inning victory at Mel Parker Field.
The Hawks committed nine errors in the loss and nine Madera runs were unearned.
“We battled to put the ball in play,” Madera head coach Andy Underwood said. “Good things happen by doing that. It was good to come back after getting down 2-0. We put a little pressure on that. I believe this was their first night game of the year.”
Madera’s Frankie Espejo tossed a complete game. He allowed five runs on seven hits with six strikeouts over the five innings.
Nate Medina was the tough-luck loser for the Hawks in two innings. He allowed seven runs, but four were earned. Hudson Groh allowed eight runs in 2 2/3 innings, but just two of those runs were earned.
Benji Molina led the Liberty offense with a solo home run, his first hit of the season.
“Benji came out of his slump. It was really cool to see the team celebrate and be excited and happy for him,” Underwood said.
Joel Arellano and Logan Wattenbarger each had two hits in the game. Six different Coyotes scored two runs. Zachary Robbins also drove in two runs.
Liberty lead-off batter McGuire Smith led the Hawks with a double and triple to go with two runs scored. Jakson Bucher hit two doubles and drove in two. They had four of Liberty’s seven hits and scored three of the Hawks’ five runs while driving in three.
Liberty started the game riding high. Smith led off with a double to the left-centefield gap. He came around to score when Bucher also doubled to the left-centerfield gap. Bucher stole third and scored on a Medina groundout for a 2-0 lead.
Madera’s first nine batters reached before an out was recorded. Lead-off batter Tyler Zamora was hit by the first pitch.
Adam Landero put down a bunt and reached on an error. Wilson walked on four pitches to load the bases.
Robbins singled to right to drive in Zamora and Landero while Wilson took third. Joel Arellano singled to left to drive in Wilson with Robbins taking third.
Ivan Castaneda followed with a single up the middle to score Robbins with Arellano heading to third.
Josh Alvarez reached on an error to load the bases. Molina reached on another error while Arellano came in to score the bases remained loaded for a 6-2 lead. Medina got forceout and two strikeouts to end the inning.
The Coyotes added a run in the bottom of the third inning when Molina hit the first pitch he saw over the left-centerfield fence for his first hit of the season and a 7-2 lead.
Liberty cut into the lead with a run in the fourth. With one out, Medina singled and went to second on a groundout by Matthew Prado. Xavier Gordon singled up the middle to drive in Medina.
The Hawks cut the lead to two in the fifth inning. With one out, Daniel Sandante drew a walk. Smith hit a ball off the centerfield fence for a triple to drive in Sandante. Bucher doubled down the left field line to drive in Smith to cut the lead to 7-5, but the next two Hawks were retired.
The Hawks wouldn’t get a chance to cut into the lead because the Coyotes ended the game with an eight-run fifth inning.
With one out, Wattenbarger was hit by a pitch and stole second. Zamora singled up the middle to drive in Wattenbarger. Landero reached on a bunt single. Wilson followed with a single to drive in Zamora. An error allowed Wilson to advance to second.
Robbins reached on an error while Landero and Wilson came in to score. Castaneda reached on an error and a wild pitch allowed Robbins to score.
Mathew Del Toro reached on another error while Arellano and Castaneda scored and Del Toro advanced to second. Wattenbarger singled up the middle and Del Toro came around to score the game-ending run.