The payoff pitch got away from Clovis West reliever Ixan Henderson – and with it, so did the Golden Eagles’ chances at an Opening Day win.
Henderson’s two-out wild pitch with bases loaded scored the go-ahead runs in the 7th inning for San Joaquin Memorial, who defeated host Clovis West 4-2 Tuesday on day one of the Coca-Cola Classic.
The 29th edition of the Classic pitted two of California’s highly-regarded baseball programs against each other on Opening Day. Prep Baseball Report ranked Memorial and Clovis West No. 15 and 21 in the state, respectively, heading into 2020.
Both team’s aces pitched lights out in the first two innings of the game. Clovis West’s Noah Galvan struck out five of the first ten batters he faced, while Memorial’s Jayden Jones fanned five in his first two frames.
Jones ran into trouble in the third inning, however, when he surrendered back-to-back singles to Chauncey Turney and Jacob Haros. One batter later, Henderson knocked in Clovis West’s first run with a double.
Jones walked the bases loaded with one out, but limited the damage by forcing a sacrifice fly from Art Navarette, followed by an aggressive Henderson being thrown out at home plate after attempting to capitalize on an errant Memorial throw.
Staked to a 2-0 lead, Galvan surrendered only one Panther hit through five innings and retired 15 straight batters before walking Memorial’s Trent Walker with one out in the sixth inning.
Fresno State football commit Mac Dalena followed with a single, then Panthers outfielder Jalen McMillan cut Clovis West’s lead in half with an RBI single.
Eddie Saldivar knotted the affair by grounding into a fielder’s choice, scoring Dalena.
Clovis West placed runners on second and third base with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Panthers reliever Josh Castro struck out Cayden Munster swinging to stifle the scoring threat.
Henderson moved from centerfield to the mound to start the 7th inning for the Golden Eagles. After recording a strikeout, the lefty walked a batter, hit a batter and surrendered a single to load the bases with one out.
After recording another strikeout, Henderson worked the count full against Dalena before throwing a wild pitch to score two Memorial baserunners.
In the bottom of the frame, Memorial turned to its closer Tanner Sagousepe to nail down the final outs. The junior used a sharp slider to keep Clovis West on its heels, securing an Opening Day win for the defending Division-II baseball champions.
“It’s a tough loss when you’re up 2-0 headed into the sixth inning,” Clovis West head coach Kevin Patrick said. “We had too many strikeouts tonight. We need to put the ball in play and finish these close games.”
University of Washington football commit Jalen McMillan went 2-for-4 for the Panthers with an RBI single and a stolen base to his name.
McMillan ended Fresno State signee Noah Galvan’s night early, as the Clovis West starter went 5.1 innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits and a walk, while striking out six.