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Vander Tuig no-hits Buffaloes

Manteca’s May pitches well but isn’t helped by five errors

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Vander Tuig no-hits Buffaloes

Manteca's Kevin Allen goes headfirst toward the third-base bag as Oakdale infielder Craig Lefebvre awaits the throw in the fifth inning of Tuesday's Valley Oak League contest.


POSTED April 29, 2009 3:19 a.m.

Curtiss May couldn’t have pitched much better for Manteca in a 10-1 loss Tuesday.

And Oakdale’s Nick Vander Tuig, oddly enough, could have.

Vander Tuig beaned Ricky Acosta in the fourth inning to break up a perfect game, and two errors in the fifth allowed Kevin Allen to reach and score Manteca’s only run.

“He was close (to a perfect game), but at least he gets the no-no,” Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika said.
The UCLA-bound junior notched his first no-hitter of the season while striking out 10 and walking none, but more importantly for the Mustangs (11-0, 22-2 overall) the victory clinched a share of their third straight Valley Oak League championship with three games to go in the regular season.

“When you have pitching like that and defense like that, you’re tough to beat,” Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “That’s why their record is what it is.

“We have to put the ball in play a little more, but when you have a guy on the mound dominating it’s tough to do that.”

Vander Tuig, who threw just 76 pitches, got some help from his defense and can especially thank third baseman Dante Major of preserving the no-no.

In the fourth, Major robbed Manteca clean-up hitter Daniel Miramontes of a base hit with a diving stop near the third-base line and put the finishing touches on the highlight with a rocket of a throw to first.

Major repeated the same sequence in the fifth and got the force at first, but an errant throw on a double-play attempt allowed Allen to plate the Buffaloes’ run.

“He made two great plays, and I applauded him for that,” Ballardo said. “Dante Major is his name, and I won’t ever forget that name. I was impressed by him.”

He was also impressed by his own pitcher.

May’s line — seven strikeouts, 11 hits, three walks, two hit batsmen, five earned runs in six-plus innings — doesn’t stand out at first glance, but five errors behind him extended the Mustangs’ turns at the plate enough for them to get their hacks in.

A fielding error in the second aided Oakdale’s first three runs of the game, two of which were plated on a double by Eddie McGrath. The Buffaloes (3-8, 9-13-1) made three more defensive mistakes in the fourth, allowing four more runs to cross.

“Curtiss threw very well today, and I made sure to tell him that,” Ballardo said. “S even ‘K’s’ against the best hitting team in league is pretty darn good.

“I was impressed with him today, but we were snake-bitten by the errors. Against a good team like that you can’t do that, but they put the ball in play and they hit pretty well, too.”

Oakdale did most of its damage from the bottom half of its lineup. Steven Gratigny was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs. Logan Bruce was also 2-for-3 while plating a pair, Vince Helms hit 2 for 3 with a double and McGrath finished 2 for 2 with three RBIs.

“We always talk about when one guy isn’t having a good day, someone has to step up in his place and get the job done,” Arpoika said. “Our guys in the bottom (of the lineup) came up with good approaches and made good contact.”

The two-game set ends Thursday in Oakdale starting at 4 p.m.

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