LAS VEGAS – The Beaumont Coyotes had dug themselves a hole, a huge hole.
Now, could they dig themselves out of it?
Of top priority, the man in the circle had to stop the hemorrhaging. That’s exactly what Jesse Martinez did.
Trailing 5-0 in the fifth inning in the A-Division championship game of the Las Vegas Road Trip X tournament, Martinez told his teammates he wouldn’t give up any more runs.
Now all they had to do was show some offensive punch. And like lighting a fuse, the Coyotes bats caught fire in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, George Valdivia coaxed a walk, Johnny Ray laced a double, and Damon Valdivia hammered a homer to pull the Coyotes within two.
Then in the sixth they used the same formula. Gilbert Valdivia led off with a walk, Jesse Mullen doubled, and with two out, Martinez helped himself by blasting a home run to cap a dramatic, come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the Budmen of East Los Angeles.
Prior to that uprising, the Coyotes had been held hitless and struck out eight times.
But if not for Martinez’ resolve it may not have happened.
“He just said, ‘I’m not giving up anymore runs,’” said Coyotes manager David Valdivia. “He hung in there and he helped himself with that three-run homer.”
Martinez pitched well, giving up three earned runs on five hits, striking out six, and walking one.
Wilmar Lopez led off the game with a double for the Budmen and later came around to score. Then in the fourth, a pair of doubles, coupled with an error allowed three more runs to cross. And in the fifth, Orlando Herrera scored the Budmen’s final run.
But that would be all Martinez would allow.
Over the final two innings, he was near perfect with three ground balls in the sixth, and two strikeouts in the seventh.
The final strikeout was a big one.
Lopez opened the inning by reaching first base on an error, stole second, and moved to third on a passed ball. He stood poised as the tying run, but Martinez ended the threat and the game with a strikeout.
Mullen, who catches and plays first base, is one of the few veterans on this young Coyotes team. He likes what he sees of the youngsters – several who are under or barely over 20.
“They have heart,” said Mullen. “We were down 5-0 and we had struck out a lot. But the young guys fought back. This is a neat club. They’ve grown up around the game and they are a tough team to beat now.”
The Coyotes rolled through the 16-team tournament undefeated at 5-0, while the Budmen reached the final the hard way: through the losers bracket.
After dropping their first game, they won six straight before the Coyotes ended that exemplary streak.
“We started a little flat,” said Budmen manager Juan Contreras. “But we said we are here to make it happen and have fun. We hit the ball pretty well, and this tournament is a great start to our season.”
Contreras said that Monty Wells (4-1) and Ryan Webb (2-1) both pitched well, adding that the entire lineup contributed offensively from one through nine.
As for the Coyotes, David Valdivia plans on returning to the NAFA World Series in Fargo, North Dakota in August to make a run at an A Division title after taking fourth in Mankato, Minnesota last year.
And he thinks his club has the potential to make it happen.
“I’m just proud of all our young guys,” he said. “They have stepped it up and are coming through for us.”