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Big inning cost Buffaloes

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Big inning cost Buffaloes

Manteca High's Mia Ramirez tries to turn the double play during the Buffaloes' 5-2 loss to Ceres Friday.


POSTED April 24, 2010 2:36 a.m.

The Manteca Buffaloes answered the first bell when they snatched the lead with a two-run third inning, but a pair of two-out RBI Ceres hits in the fifth provided the difference in a 5-2 Bulldog Valley Oak League win over the Buffaloes Friday at Manteca High.

Manteca (5-4 VOL, 8-7 overall) looked to ride its momentum from a 1-0 victory over Sierra High, but could not solve Ceres starter Kaycee Creek who held the Buffaloes off balanced for six of her seven innings.

The Buffaloes got a complete-game outing from starter Mariah Navarro, who matched Creek’s effort for Manteca but paid dearly for Ceres’ fifth inning nightmare.

Manteca held a 2-1 lead in the fifth and got one-out away from getting out of the inning. A walk to Taiylor Sakurada, followed by Jode Johnson reaching on a fielder’s choice set the table for a deep flyball to left in which Creek parlayed into a two-out, two-RBI triple.

“Nothing bothered me as much as the one in the fifth that got over our heads,” Manteca head coach Todd Hardcastle said. “We cannot let that happen. That ball was in the air a long time and we’ve got to be able to run under that.

“I’m not sure exactly what happened, but that ball has to be caught.”

Ceres (7-2, 13-6-1) cemented its lane to victory when Cierra Hammons drove in Creek for the Bulldogs’ final insurance run. Manteca continued to put the ball in play and make solid contact against Creek the final three innings, but Manteca would only muster a Melissa Bond single with two outs in the seventh.

“The thing about it is we’re playing well right now,” Hardcastle said of his group. “I wish we would have played this well in the first half, we would probably be in a lot better position than we are now.

“This team 10-runned us last time; we are really coming around.”

Navarro did all she could do in defeat, nipping every Ceres rally in the bud with quality pitches. Defensively, catcher Dallas Mould gunned down a base stealer, the middle infield tandem of Selena Gonzalez (shortstop) and Mia Ramirez (second base) turned a pair of impressive double plays and Rochelle Perez helped the cause backing up a play and making a miraculous catch along the leftfield foul line.

Navarro kept Ceres off the scoreboard in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings, but a run in the first and seventh sandwiched around the fifth was too much for the junior to overcome.

“Mariah was Mariah today,” Hardcastle said. “She threw almost the exact same game she threw against Sierra and won, which is just as good a team as Ceres. Mariah did her job, we just kind of fell apart in that one inning.”

Manteca pushed across its pair when Navarro crushed an RBI triple to straight-away center, and plated the second run with aggressive base running, swiping the go ahead run with a great secondary on a wild pitch from Ceres.

Manteca will have to put the loss out of its head immediately with a trip from the Weston Ranch Cougars awaiting Monday. The Buffaloes showed playing on the level of the superior teams in the VOL is something that is not too far off for Manteca.

“I was pleased with how hard we played, except sometimes we just let down with our intensity,” Ramirez said. “We have to stay at that high intensity if we want to win these close games.”

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