It was the opportunity of a lifetime for a high school baseball player - the chance to play in a Triple A park - and that’s what The Yosemite High Badgers (6-6-1, 3-2 North Sequoia League) and the Washington Union Panthers (8-11, 0-6 NSL) got to do on April 9, facing each other in a NSL game at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, home of the Fresno Grizzlies.
A great evening for baseball and when the gates opened at 4:30 p.m., about 200 fans sporting their Badger Blue and Panther Purple entered the stadium. Yosemite won the game 9-1.
Senior Cannon Eames received a base on balls to start the game and quickly stole second and third base. Chris Ward then singled and Eames crossed home plate for the first run of the game.
Senior Austen Burgeno started the game on the mound for the Badgers and went 5 and a third innings shutting out the Panthers on 5 hits and 5 strikeouts.
In the top of the second, Burgeno helped his cause with a double, followed with a balk by the Union pitcher to move him to third.
Sophomore Owen Bazzar and Sage Crosswhite got base hits, and Brian Mullarkey reached first on a walk. Eames also walked forcing in a run for Yosemite and then senior Evan Prater hit a two run single.
Union had trouble with Burgeno’s curve as he struck out the next two batters looking and the final batter flying out deep to Eames.
Defensively the Badgers were stellar in the third and fourth inning with highlights being two nice double plays - the first turned by shortstop, Evan Prater, to second baseman Ward to first baseman Jensen Pincus - the second double play was by junior Nick Pierce at shortstop, to Trinity Curtis at second, to Jensen Pincus at first.
Sage Crosswhite chased down a hard hit ball to left field and threw a perfect strike to Ward at second base who tagged the runner out.at second.
Union scored their only run off Burgeno in the bottom of the fifth inning. Prater relived to close out the inning.
Ward finished the game on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, getting three quick outs after a Panther base hit.
Yosemite was thankful for Union hosting them and the chance to play at Chukchansi Park.
Burgeno said playing in Chukchansi Park was a memorable experience.
“I was out there on the pitcher’s mound thinking of all the great San Francisco Giant pitchers that have pitched from that mound like Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Linsacum,.” Burgeno said. The Grizzlies are now affiliated with the World Champion Houston Astros.
Junior Chris Ward said it was pretty electric playing on a Triple A field that a bunch of Major League Baseball players have played on.
Ward said the best part of the game was when Prater almost hit a home run, with the ball falling on the warning path in deep left field for a double in the fourt inning.
“That hit energized the whole team and it was a game-changer because we starting hitting and scoring after that.”
Yosemite sweeps Union
After the game at Chukchansi Park, the Badgers hosted the Panthers on April 12. Yosemite got the 4-3 win, completing the NSL three-game sweep of Union.
Burgeno went 2 for 2 and Ward went 2 for 4 in the game.
YHS played Chowchilla Monday and will play at Liberty on April 23 and at home on April 24, hosting Liberty. Game time 4 p.m.