Manteca notched six runs in the first two innings Monday and iced the game with seven sixth-inning runs in a 13-5 Valley Oak League baseball win over visiting Ripon.
“In the beginning of the game we put some good at-bats together,” Buffaloes coach Mark Ruiz said. “It kind of fell off a little in the middle but we picked it back up in the last inning.”
Manteca leadoff batter Dylan DePrater (2 for 3, RBI, three runs, walk) led the top-third of the order that reached base nine times in 12 at-bats, scoring seven runs.
“If we start off strong and get the ball in play, we start off great,” DePrater said. “If I do my job at leadoff, then we can make plays further down the order.”
Hitting out of the No. 2 hole, Alex Murrietta was 2 for 3 with two RBI, two runs, a double and a walk. He started on the hill for the Buffaloes (10-7 VOL, 10-8 overall) and went five innings, allowing six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
“It is so helpful to have that offensive support,” Murrietta said. “When I am pitching, I am battling on every pitch for a strike, and when we have that offensive support, we tend to come out on top.”
Batting third, Zach Todd doubled in a run, scored two and walked twice.
After giving up six runs in the first two innings, Brandon Molthen (2 for 3, double, two runs) clamped down on the mound for the Indians (4-13, 7-15), notching seven strikeouts in the next three innings while striking out the side in the fourth. Molthen was forced to leave the game due to pitch count after the fifth inning.
“He really commanded the zone the third through the fifth innings,” Ripon coach Bobby Swedberg said of Molthen. “He had them off balance and had some quick innings.
“But it is tough when he ran his pitch count up early and hats off to them – they were able to put balls in play and run up that pitch count by fouling off a lot of pitches. That plays a big role in the pitch count, and if we had done a better job of commanding the zone the first two innings like we did the next three, he probably would have finished this game out.”
Nate Dorn was 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Indians. Owen Wilbur doubled in a run and scored two and Korbin Hodgson singled in a pair of runs.
Manteca entered Monday tied with Kimball and a game ahead of Sierra for the last playoff spot.
“If we win Wednesday, we’re in,” Ruiz said. “It’s that simple. We just need to go out there, play our game and get a W.”
The two teams wrap up the VOL regular season Wednesday with the Ripon hosting at 4 p.m. at Mistlin Park.