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A LESSON IN FOCUS

Buffs near-perfect on hill, at plate in rout of East Union

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A LESSON IN FOCUS

East Union right fielder Darren Bramell makes a diving catch on a ball hit by Manteca High’s Jacob Corn in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game.

Photo by SEAN KAHLER/


POSTED April 23, 2014 12:07 a.m.

In post-game huddles at opposite ends of Agostini Field, the coaching staffs for the Manteca and East Union baseball teams delivered the same message.

With one noticeable exception: Tone.

Manteca continued to run roughshod over Valley Oak League opponents on Tuesday afternoon with a shortened 12-0 victory over the fast-falling Lancers.

Senior ace Jacob Corn flirted with perfection, twirling a no-hitter against his crosstown rival to improve to 5-1 on the season. The University of Oregon-bound left-hander expended only 61 pitches, fanning eight and walking one in a game that lasted less than two hours.

“Here’s the deal: He executes pitches,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said of Corn, the Bulletin’s reigning All-Area MVP. “He has a lot of experience and he’s very talented. But as talented as he is, his No. 1 asset is how competitive he is. He just bows up out there. He loves to be challenged.”

Corn got one on Tuesday – just not from his opponent.

The Buffaloes’ lineup challenged Corn for the spotlight with a near-perfect performance of their own. Manteca sprayed hits to all parts of the diamond, erupted for eight runs in the third inning and then induced the mercy rule with a four-run fifth.

Dom Pisano led the parade on the base paths, going 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBI. Leadoff hitter Michael Garibay went 2 for 4 with a double and reached base three times. William Reeder doubled and drove in two runs as the Buffaloes’ top three hitters went 7 for 12 in the opening game of this home-and-home series.

“They go up there with a nice approach. They’re not just up there guessing and swinging at whatever,” MacDannald said of the top half his lineup. “All those guys can hit to both sides of the plate. We all have our favorite pitches, obviously, but our guys do a good job of count leverage and playing the mental side of the game.”

Dillon Lauborough and Joe Menzel also drove in two runs apiece for Manteca, which hasn’t lost in more than a month. The Buffaloes (9-0, 17-2) have won 10 consecutive games, including six by 10 runs or more.

As the season turns toward the finish, MacDannald said “focus” has become the club’s watchword.

“Our focus all year has not been to concern ourselves with who is in the other dugout. It’s about going out for every practice and every game and trying to be our very best,” MacDannald said. “We feel like with the group we have – a lot of talent and a lot of experience – that if we throw strikes, play catch on defense and have a good approach at the plate, that formula will go a long way.”

East Union skipper Dan Triglia delivered the same sermon to his young club. Only his words were laced with desperation and spiced with frustration.

The Lancers (3-6, 4-15) have lost three straight games by 10 runs or more.

Lucas Garcia was the only Lancer to reach base against Corn, drawing a second-inning walk. Andrew Ruiz made the best contact against the lanky left-hander, but his rocket shot to left field was snared by Menzel.

Leadoff hitter Gabe Chavez went 0 for 2, snapping his eight-game hitting streak.

East Union also committed three errors in the field and had two wild pitches that led to Manteca runs.

“We have to have great focus in practice to lead into a great focus for the game on Thursday,” Triglia said. “We have to compete on every single pitch of every single at-bat for every single play. That’s our biggest issue that we’re trying to overcome – it’s staying in the moment for every single pitch and every single play.

“If we can be consistent with that, we play pretty good baseball. When we’re not consistent with that, we don’t play very well.”

As dominating as Corn was on Tuesday, Pisano set the tone in the blowout with fast feet in the first frame.

The junior speedster singled off sophomore Marco Gonzales and then swiped second base. When a breaking ball from Gonzales bounced over catcher Joe Souza’s mitt, Pisano bolted.

Not for third, but home.

As he turned the bag at third, Pisano saw Souza casually chasing the ball and beat the relay throw to Gonzales with a slide.

“That’s one of those plays you’re proud of,” MacDannald said. “You’re proud that your kid is hustling all the time. He has wonderful instincts for the game. That’s what we expect from him – that’s what we expect from the whole team, actually.

“You always have to fight for every run you get. It’s not like football, where you can outmuscle people all night. You have to respect this game all the time. You have to fight every moment.”

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