STOCKTON — It was a good week for Manteca High.
The Buffaloes played solid baseball Friday with a 9-1 Valley Oak League victory over the Cougars.
“Our goal for each game is to put the ball in the (strike) zone, play catch (on defense) and be situational hitters — we did all of that today,” said Manteca coach Neil MacDannald.
The Buffaloes (4-0 VOL, 12-4) sit atop of the league standings at this junction of the season.
Weston Ranch (2-2 VOL, 13-3) experienced a few hiccups on defense. A pair of errors coupled with walks and a passed ball allowed for four runs for Manteca in the first inning.
Cougars coach Dave Hager added that his starting pitcher Larry Martinez and Jordan Severin, who came on in relief in the third, deserved better fates.
“You can’t give Manteca those extra at bats. That’s a good team,” he said.
For Jake Menasco, he pitched his best of the season, according to MacDannald.
“That’s the best he’s pitched since last year’s playoffs when he went nine plus innings,” he said.
Menasco allowed three hits, issuing two walks and a strikeout.
His defense behind the play of freshman shortstop Alex Gouveia - he had nine putouts including a double play in the fifth initiated by second baseman Kyle Rachels — helped support the cause.
Manteca tacked on another run in third, with Zach Chamberlain drawing a two-out walk and scoring on Menasco’s single.
Rachels had a one-out single in the fourth and scored on Brett Kovacs’ RBI single, making it 6-0 for the Buffaloes.
They put up three more in the seventh. Ronaldo Tijero, Tyler Kelso-Graves and Rachels scored, with Kovacs and Gouveia each driving in a run.
Weston Ranch avoided the shutout when Josh Dilg led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Imran Khan’s RBI single.
“As a team, we’re 2-2 in league and it’s not the end of the world. Our kids are tough — they won’t stop battling,” Hager said.
MacDannald, for one, believes that the Cougars are among the top teams in the VOL.
“They’ll be one of those teams battling for a playoff spot,” he said.
Oakdale 5, East Union 1
The Mustangs (1-3, 10-6) are finally off the snide after avoiding a sweep at the hands of visiting East Union (2-2, 5-8).
Gyse Hulsebosch drove in the Lancers’ lone run, with Marco Gonzales (leadoff walk) scoring on his sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth inning. They otherwise had few chances to accumulate runs and were held to just three hits.
Defensively, three errors led to unearned runs in the third and fifth innings for Oakdale. Adrian Sevier Affleje pitched four innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk. He also had two strikeouts. Hulsebosch threw two shutout innings in relief.
“Just need to tighten up the defense a little bit,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “Other than that, we actually played fairly well.”
Lathrop 5, Kimball 4
In Tracy, host Kimball (1-3, 10-5) had the tying and go-ahead runs on base, but Lathrop closer David Lopez struck out clean-up hitter Nate Ambriz for the final out and the save. Ambriz (3 for 4, three RBIs) was a single shy of hitting for the cycle. He had a two-run triple in the third that gave Kimball a 3-2 lead and later smashed a solo homer in the sixth to tie it at 4-4.
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout, and the Spartans (1-3-, 4-6-1) jumped ahead for good in the seventh on Albert Flores’ RBI double that plated Lopez. Flores also drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the first inning.
Leadoff batter Ross Tisdell went 1 for 2 with two walks and two runs. Keenan Donatelli, the winning pitcher, was 2 for 4 with two RBIs. He threw 6 1/3 innings to earn the win.
Galt 10, Ripon 2
Galt (4-8-2) broke it open with four runs each of the second and third innings to give the home team a commanding 10-1 lead.
Daniel Vitoria drove in four runs to lead the Warriors and finished 2 for 4. They took advantage of eight hits, seven walks and four Ripon errors. Darian Moreno pitched a three-hitter.
Nick Price plated both of Ripon’s runs. Travis Warra, Andrew Durrer (RBI) and Jack Mayer each had a hit. The Indians (12-3) return to Trans-Valley League action with a two-game set starting at Escalon next Tuesday.