After over 100 games, among 34 different teams throughout the Central Valley, the 50th anniversary of the Fresno Easter Classic has found its winner.
The Buhach Colony Thunder capitalized on an eight-run bottom of the fourth inning to take down the Tri-River Athletic Conference Clovis High Cougars 9-1 at Stan Bledsoe Field on Wednesday.
The Thunder went undefeated in the tournament, while also allowing a tournament low, three allowed runs. There were seven teams that started 3-0, so the tiebreaker went to runs allowed and that was Buhach Colony’s strength. Their starting pitchers took home awards for their play.
Future Fresno State Bulldog Alex Kendrick pitched a complete game, while Jake Sapien dominated on the hill in his starts to take home the Outstanding Pitchers award. From top to bottom, the Thunder were a dangerous team, but the Cougars were just as deserving.
Clovis also went undefeated in the Fresno Easter Classic before the championship. They beat Lemoore 13-1, followed with a 10-0 win over Jesuit-Carmichael and finally a 6-2 win over Hanford.
In game one against Lemoore, Ian Mortensen scored three runs, collected two hits and two RBI’s, while Matthew Sanchez had two hits and three RBI’s. In game two, Darrien Miller had three hits and four RBI’s, while Noah Beal pitched five shutout innings.
Against Hanford, Justin Tiger had a double and three RBI’s to go along with six strong innings from Zach Jimenez who struck out seven batters.
The Cougars were one of many teams in the TRAC that played well, but against the Thunder, Clovis couldn’t get out of its funk at the plate.
Clovis collected only four hits and scored a single run. The first three innings painted a picture of a pitching duel between Kendrick and Miles Henderson, but the game was flipped upside down in the bottom of the fourth inning.
A combination of errors and hard-hit balls doomed the Cougars. Buhach Colony batted around the order, including Kendrick who had a hit and two RBI’s and Brendan Ekizian who had two RBI hits in the inning.
The hits seemed to keep coming. Even after Mortensen was pulled, his replacement Ethan Madruga allowed three earned runs, while only getting a single out.
Although the Cougars had offense from Noah Beal, who scored the lone run and had two hits, Clovis found themselves in a hole they couldn’t get out of.
Junior Koby Kropf had an infield single that brought Beal home in the top of the fourth, but that was all for the Cougars’ offense for the evening.
However, in the top of the fifth and sixth innings, Clovis had a leadoff single and a leadoff double by Carson Evans and Beal. Despite the base hits to open the fifth and sixth innings, the Thunder pitching was too much to handle.