Clovis East tops TRAC leader Buchanan with late offensive push

Buchanan outfielder Miguel Ortiz dives back to first as Clovis East first baseman Domenic Jimenez fields pitcher Derek Righetti’s pickoff throw during the game at Clovis East Stadium on April 26. PHOTO BY SETH CASEY/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

The Buchanan Bears baseball team was looking to extend its 13 game win streak in a TRAC matchup against Clovis East at Clovis East Stadium on April 26.

The Timberwolves, however, had plans of their own.

In a late inning thriller, Clovis East (10-15) bested the No. 1 TRAC ranked Bears (23-3) with a final score of 10-9.

The Bears jumped in front early with a leadoff home run in the first inning from first baseman Jake King. King would homer again in the second inning, adding two more RBI to his night, following an RBI single from teammate Nick Marchini.

The Bears’ 4-0 lead would hold until the fifth inning, as the Timberwolves’ bats struggled to find hits.

That would all change in the bottom of the fifth.

Clovis East began an offensive surge, as center fielder AJ Hodgerney hit a leadoff single into center field. Next to the plate was first baseman Domenic Jimenez, who brought Hodgerney home with a double.

Jimenez headed to third as the throw went home, but the throw to third sailed over the third baseman, allowing Jimenez to score on an error, putting two runs on the board for the Timberwolves.

But they were just getting started.

After a couple walks and a single, Buchanan starting pitcher TJ Fondtain was replaced on the mound by reliever Marcelo Saldana, who hit the first batter he faced, which loaded the bases.

The Timberwolves weren’t ready to let the opportunity go to waste as the next batter up, second baseman Garrett Rose, hit a double to score two more runs and tie the match at four runs each.

A couple batters later with the bases loaded again, catcher Josh Sue hit a ground ball that looked to be a double play. But an error by Buchanan allowed two more runs to score for the Timberwolves, who now had a 6-4 lead.

Buchanan closed the gap in the top of the sixth with a run of their own, but the Timberwolves went right back to work in their half of the sixth.

After another Buchanan error allowed two runs to score for Clovis East, Rose posted another RBI with a single. The three-run inning for the Timberwolves gave them a 9-5 lead going into the seventh. But the No. 1 team in the conference wasn’t ready to go down without a fight. In the top of the seventh inning, the Bears started a rally of their own.

With two runners on base, Buchanan third baseman JD Ortiz hit a double that landed fair on the right field line, scoring both runners and closing the Timberwolves’ lead to 9-7.

A ground out by Bears catcher Tanner Larson had Buchanan down to its last out of the evening.

But the Bears continued to battle. With shortstop Temo Becerra on first and Ortiz at third, Becerra took off for second. The throw to second base went over the fielder’s glove, allowing Ortiz to score from third.

Down by just one run, Buchanan was able to load the bases for King, who was hit by a pitch, bringing the tying run home for the Bears.

Although they managed to tie the game, the Bears could not regain the lead, and Clovis East recorded the third out of the top of the seventh on a ground ball.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Timberwolves were looking to end the ballgame before the Bears got another chance at the plate.

Clovis East quickly loaded the bases with a leadoff single by third baseman/pitcher Matt Mathis, a walk by Sue and another single from Hodgerney.

Timberwolves left fielder Christian Gonzalez stepped to the plate with one out and bases loaded, looking to send the home crowd off happy.

After a battle against Bears pitcher King, who took the mound in the seventh, Gonzalez got what he was looking for, a ground ball single brought home Mathis home from third and gave the Timberwolves their second TRAC win of the season.

After the game, Clovis East head coach Ryan Smith said he was proud of his team’s ability to fight and find a way to win.

“Something has been different about the last week. The kids in general, they finally have turned the page, and it showed up on the ball field tonight,” Smith said. “They’re not intimidated, they just haven’t had a chance to put it all together, and tonight we kind of put it all together.”

Smith said that beating a team like Buchanan was a huge program win. And although the team has not found regular success in conference matches, they have kept their morale high at practice and in ballgames.

“They’re [Buchanan] unbelievable athletes over there, and I feel bad for whoever has to play them next,” Smith said. “But for us, it’s huge.”

The regular season for both teams is nearing its end. Clovis East will face Central for its final two games of the season on April 30 at Central and at home on May 2.

Buchanan will head into a three-game series against Clovis North, starting on April 30 at Clovis North and then at home on May 2 and 3.

Seth Casey
Seth Casey is an aspiring journalist, an avid sports fan and a Fresno/Clovis native. He currently attends Fresno State, where he is pursuing a degree in Media, Communication and Journalism with an emphasis in print journalism. He is excited for the opportunity to work at the Clovis Roundup and looks forward to serving the Clovis community and its residents by showcasing all the city has to offer.