SAN ANDREAS — With the District 67 playoffs in the rear-view mirror, the level of competition is amped up significantly for the Section 6 playoffs.
And when you give up three unearned runs in one inning and run into three outs during the rest of the game, odds are you will not win.
The odds caught up with Manteca on Thursday, as Delta of Stockton drew a two-out, full-count, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 walk-off win in opening-round action of the Little League Section 6 Juniors All-Star Tournament at San Andreas Fields.
It should have never been that close. With Delta runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth and Manteca leading 4-1, Joe Modesto hit a towering infield pop fly that was dropped. A run then scored on a groundout – which should have been the third out – off the bat of Jason Aquino and Jeremy Bundol then tied the game with a two-RBI single.
Manteca’s Jackson Brunn temporarily stopped the bleeding when he gunned Bundol down from right field trying to stretch the single into a double.
Delta got bit by the error bug in the first inning. Manteca’s Ryan Zimmermann and Isaac Searcy (2 for 3, RBI) singled to start the game and then Briggs Alavezos (double) reached on an infield error. Matt Dunham reached on an error, scoring Zimmermann, and following a double play that caught Searcy at home Christian Tonna singled in Alavezos and Dunham for a 3-0 lead.
Manteca bumped its lead to 4-0 in the second when Tyler Garlets led off the inning with a walk, took second on a beautiful sacrifice bunt by Karson Condit and came home on a single by Searcy.
Leadoff batter Zimmermann reached following Condit’s sacrifice bunt when he was hit by a pitch on his ankle. The injury was too painful to continue and he was replaced by Kevin Thornburg.
Matt Dunham had two great plays in center field for Manteca. He made a leaping catch in a 1-2-3 third inning and kept Delta off the board in the sixth when he gunned down Amir Brooks trying to score from second on a single with a powerful throw to catcher Briggs Alavezos.
A.J. Kovacs pitched into the fifth for Manteca, allowing one run on six hits.
Manteca has the day off today and plays the loser of Delta and the District 15 champion Amador County West Saturday morning at 9. Manteca will need to win three straight to advance to the Northern California Division II Tournament.