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Buffs handle Enochs
Haynes bat, Mays arm lift Manteca in win
Manteca infielder Ryan Knisely hangs on for the force out but has the double-play opportunity broken up. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin
It was about as textbook as baseball victories come.

Manteca High kicked off the first round of the Walker Vick Classic Thursday afternoon at home with a solid 8-3 victory over Enochs of Modesto.

The Buffaloes enjoyed nearly flawless efforts in all phases of the game, including solid pitching from starter Curtiss May, mistake-free defense and aggressive and timely offense.

After a rocky first two innings in which May allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits, the Buffalo hurler faced just 14 batters over the next four, giving up no runs and only a pair of harmless singles.

“I came out a little shaky, I haven’t pitched in a while,” May said. “Gave up a few runs, but you can’t let it get to you. You just have to bear down, throw strikes and let your defense work for you.

“With these outfielders, I don’t know what else I could ask for.”

May needed just 10 pitches to mop up the third and fourth, and finished six complete on just 48 pitches including three strikeouts.

“Curtiss probably wants to strangle me right now,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said afterward. “He pitched six innings of great ball, but this early in the season, all of our kids are on pitch counts.

“He gave me that look, and I know (how he feels), but he understands. There’s a lot more baseball left. But I like a guy that wants to finish, and he could have.”

The Manteca bats were alive and popping, and no one came up bigger than junior third baseman Kiefer Haynes.

Haynes had five RBIs on a pair of hits, both to the opposite field.

After Ryan Knisely (2 BB, SB, 2 R) scored on C.J. Rivas’ first-inning walk, Haynes brought Ricky Acosta, Sam Jorgensen (2 for 4, SB, R) and Rivas all home on a rainbow fly that carried all the way out to right for a grand slam.

The slam was the first of Haynes’ career.

“It felt good, at first I thought it was just going to be a pop fly to the right fielder, but it started carrying after that. I was pretty happy,” Haynes said. “We started off hitting the ball really well.

“We got ahead, and normally we’ve been letting (opponents) catch back up. But we didn’t this time. Our defense is really solid.”

Haynes went to the right side again in the third, drilling a screamer up the line for an RBI single that plated Trey Roberts for a 7-3 lead.

“From what I’ve seen, that’s what he’s been doing in the cages, and that’s why he’s in the lineup,” Ballardo said of Haynes taking two to the opposite field. “He’s been working hard defensively, and I told him, ‘As long as you hit, we’re going to find a spot for you in the lineup.’”

Kevin Allen added an RBI single in the second, and Matt Burroughs hit home Acosta (2 for 3, SB, 2 R) with a double to deep center in the fourth.

So far, Ballardo has been impressed with his sophomore call-ups, Rivas and Burroughs, who hit in the five and six holes, respectively, Thursday afternoon.

“They put the ball in play and they both have a lot of power,” Ballardo said. “They’re still getting their timing down, but they both bring that confidence, and in baseball confidence is a big thing.

“Right now it’s kind of a trial. We’re just seeing what they can do, and you never know, they might be down with the sophomores when league starts. It all depends, and they know that.”

Manteca faces Hilmar today at 3:30 p.m. for the right to play in the Walker Vick tournament championship.

Escalon 11, Weston Ranch 4

The Cougars allowed six runs in the fifth on a couple of fielding errors, but other than that played decent ball Thursday afternoon in the loss.

Michael Piccirilli went 2 for 4 with a double and a run batted in, and Chris Fleckenstein was 1 for 3 with another RBI.

Fleckenstein got the start and allowed six earned over five.

“It was one of those games that was closer than the final score indicated,” Weston Ranch head coach Dave Smith said. “If we make a few plays here and there, it’s much closer.”

The Cougars head back to Manteca for the second round of the Walker Vick Tournament today at 12:30 p.m. for a matchup with Summerville.