The Buchanan Bears varsity baseball team eked out a win in extra innings to defeat Clovis North 3-2 in a conference rivalry matchup on March 22 at Clovis North Stadium.
Both teams entered the game with a 3-1 TRAC record, competing for the top spot in the conference. But solid pitching and a late-game long ball earned the Bears a hard-fought win.
Pitching was the story of the game, as both team’s starters would duel over seven innings, allowing only two hits apiece in the contest.
After a quick first inning that saw both starting pitchers settle into their rhythm, the Broncos got on the board first with a scorcher down the first base line by left fielder Conner Martin in the bottom of the second.
The throw in from right field missed the cut-off man, allowing runners from first and second to reach home and Martin to advance to second base with an RBI.
The Broncos’ 2-0 lead wouldn’t last long, as the Bears’ shortstop, Brady Hormel, drilled a line drive into left field that dropped just in front of the pursuing Bronco in the very next inning, allowing base runner Cooper Bergman to score from second.
A home run in the top of the fourth inning would tie the game for the Bears, as first baseman Jacob King’s no-doubter cleared the wall in center field.
After getting out of trouble with a runner on third in the bottom of the third, Buchanan starting pitcher TJ Fondtain would find a steady groove, striking out seven more batters through his remaining four innings of work.
The bats on both teams would go cold until the top of the eighth inning, when Hormel hit a home run over the right field fence to put the Bears up 3-2 in extra innings against Clovis North relief pitcher Caden Larsen.
Clovis North would have an opportunity in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game with a runner on second, but a line drive from pitcher Riley Cooper hung in the air just a bit too long, allowing the Bears to get the final out of the ball game. King got the save after taking the mound for Buchanan in the eighth.
For Buchanan, Fondtain would get the win, throwing seven innings during which he racked up eight strikeouts with only two hits and two walks.
Buchanan head coach Brad Fontes said Fondtain’s pitching was an example of the senior’s leadership and ability to attack the strike zone. He also noted Hormel’s performance in big moments.
“That’s just Brady being Brady,” Fontes said. “He’s been up since he was a freshman, one of the first freshman to be up at varsity level for Buchanan. And he has a knack for getting big hits at big times, especially in big games.”
Hormel ended the contest going two for three with a home run and a pair of RBIs.