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Manteca’s tournament run ends with loss to Cougars

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El Dorado's Nick Weber plates a run in the fifth inning before Manteca catcher Matt Burrows can apply the tag Wednesday at Dan McAuliffe Memorial Ballpark.


POSTED May 27, 2010 3:08 a.m.
SACRAMENTO – The level of play it would have taken for the Manteca Buffaloes to compete for their first Sac-Joaquin Section title in school history abandoned them, in a season-ending 5-1 second round loss to El Dorado Wednesday at McAuliffe Memorial Park.

The Buffaloes (18-10-1) gave the ball to senior Matt Barber, and the Manteca righty kept a dangerous El Dorado lineup limited, yielding just two runs over the first four innings, the second of which being unearned.

A normally-sound Buffalo defensive unit, simply did not take care of the baseball. Four Manteca errors led to three of El Dorado’s five runs, making what Barber has done the entire season – getting ground balls – Manteca’s worst enemy.

El Dorado had no such troubles, helping an already dominant pitcher with a pair of double plays and seven innings of error-free baseball.

“They pretty much made every routine play and turned a couple of double plays just like they did the previous game,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “I have to give credit to their pitching. The pitchers from both games threw very well and kept us off balanced.”

El Dorado (27-2) starter Chris Rickon, got a run of support in the first inning and never looked back. Rickon struck out eight, gave up five hits and walked three in the complete game victory. His effort took to new heights in the final frame. After getting struck by a hard-hit ball off the bat of C.J. Rivas to end the sixth, Rickon came out and struck out two of the final three outs.

“We came in with too big of a chip on our shoulder and we just didn’t hit the ball all that well,” Manteca’s Matt Burrows said. “Barber competed like he normally does every game, we  just left a couple of pitches up.

“Not everyone can be superman every day.”

Barber led Manteca with a 2 for 3 day at the plate, leading off the game smashing an off-speed pitch to left and leading off the sixth with a base hit up the middle before coming around to score Manteca’s only run.

Burrows got a base hit in his third at bat, and grounded into a double play that led to Barber’s scored run. Michael Timmins got a hit in the sixth and Trey Roberts found a favorable bounce on his base hit that traveled down the third base line foul before changing lanes for one Manteca’s handful of hits.

Manteca was still was in striking range going into the fifth, when a pair of infield errors led to both Nick Weber and David Cooley coming around to score. The Cougars would plate their final run on a sacrifice fly with one out in the top of the sixth inning.

A season that saw Manteca fall a pair of wins short of reaching the section final and make tremendous strides throughout a challenging VOL schedule came to an abrupt end. The VOL will take on a different format, adding Kimball and lose Ceres and Central Valley highs next season. Nonetheless, the Buffaloes will undoubtedly be focused on making a return trip to the postseason.

“They’re in the same boat we were in last year, we only started two seniors,” El Dorado head coach Rusty McDonald said. “It’s the same thing they’re doing this year and we made it to the section final and got beat by a team from our own league. They almost got there.

“When they get here again next year, and I believe they will, they’re going to have seen it all before; it’s not going to be new to them.”

Manteca will get a chance to reflect on its season and the possibilities ahead for nine contributing returners, but at this space in time, the Buffaloes can only cope with the pain of a disappointing loss.

“Right now, I am just feeling for my seniors,” Ballardo said. “That’s where my heart is at this moment. Maybe in a couple of weeks or so, I can look back and say we had a successful season.

“I am already looking forward to next year to be honest.”
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