With the Valley Oak League championship and a postseason berth already out of reach, Manteca High had little to play for but pride Wednesday when the Buffaloes travelled across town to meet Sierra.
Manteca dropped a 2-0 decision to the title-chasing Timberwolves, but it was far more competitive than the lopsided 11-0 result from their previous showdown.
Sierra pitcher Allie Walljasper took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but with one out Manteca’s Selena Gonzalez laced a soft single to left. Gonzalez stole second and reached third on Celina Cooper’s fielder’s choice. Cooper, Manteca’s cleanup hitter, worked the count full and fouled off four pitches before bouncing out to Walljasper, who struck out the next batter to end it.
“The girls came out here to win. They wanted the upset,” Manteca coach Corey Navarro said. “They’re not going to stop playing hard and you saw that today. It was a close game.
“It comes down to Celina Cooper possibly hitting a home run and tying up the game, and she had a good at-bat. My hat goes off to Allie, she did a great job like always.”
Walljasper was in full command, finishing with 13 strikeouts. Gonzalez was the one player who did any sort of damage for Manteca (7-6 VOL, 13-9 overall). She ruined Walljasper’s bid for a perfect game early by drawing a two-out walk in the first inning. Walljasper retired the next 17 batters in order, throwing no more than 13 pitches from the second to sixth innings.
“She was coming across with strikes, even in 0-2 situations when you’re thinking it’s going to be a waste (pitch) but she’d come across with a strike,” Sierra coach Nick Olmo said of Walljasper. “She did a great job of controlling the game, and that’s what we expect of her. And when we had to make the plays (defensively) we made the plays.”
Aryanna Martinez made the best contact off of Walljasper, but her would-be multi-base hit was chased down Sierra center fielder Devi Coglio in the right-center gap.
Walljasper went 2 for 3 and contributed to Sierra’s first-inning run with a two-out hit. Sommer Wilson drove in courtesy runner Katelyn Teixeira to break the scoreless tie. Sierra doubled its lead in the fourth when Gianna Lenoci (2 for 3) drilled a groundball through the middle and later scored on a throwing error following Devi Coglio’s sacrifice bunt. Iyana Hughes and Lexus Barnes each legged out a double but were among the eight runners left stranded for the Timberwolves.
“They did what they had to do and they got the job done, but it wasn’t a stellar performance at the plate,” Olmo said. “We were putting girls on base … but it’s been the same old story with us. We’re leaving (runners) stranded and not able to get back-to-back hits.
“It’s not anything I’m too worried about; we haven’t had a contest since last Wednesday. It’s just a lack of game time, I believe. We’ll come out a lot sharper for Sonora (Friday at home), then we’ll have East Union next Tuesday.”