Manteca’s Alex Gouveia was seeing it Wednesday.
Gouveia was 4 for 5 with five RBI, belting out a double and a triple to lead the Buffaloes to an 11-1 six-inning win over visiting Weston Ranch to open Valley Oak League play. Gouveia’s double knocked in Dom Day and Nate Gutierrez in the sixth inning to end the game via the mercy rule.
“In the first game of league you always have to elevate the focus,” Gouveia said. “I had a good mindset going up there with a lot of confidence.
“I just felt like I was seeing the ball today.”
Gouveia scored in a three-run third along with Nate Gutierrez (two runs) on a two-RBI single by Dylan Gross (2 for 4, two RBI, run)
“I was just jumping on the pitches he was giving me,” Gross said. “A couple of hits weren’t pretty but they fell. You just have to hit it where they ain’t, and it’s always nice to get something going and get a couple of RBI for your team.”
Ryan Ward was masterful on the mound for Manteca (1-0 VOL, 9-4 overall). After yielding a first-inning run, Ward retired the next seven batters – five by strikeout – and finished with 13 strikeouts, allowing six hits and a walk.
“This was his (Ward’s) best outing for sure,” Buffaloes coach Neil MacDannald said. “He only issued one walk today and part of our philosophy is to put the ball in the strike zone and play catch behind it and today he was hitting his spots. When he’s on he’s going to be tough to beat.
“This is a good hitting team and their 3 and 4 hitters (Austin Cappas, Carlos Drain) are legit. Our plan is to attack those guys with nobody on base because you don’t want to face those guys with anyone on base.”
The Cougars (0-1, 8-5) committed four errors in the first three innings and that led to the first six Manteca runs.
“When you make errors against a good ball club that puts the ball in play you give the game away,” Weston Ranch coach Dave Hager said. “And Manteca’s good. They took advantage of every mistake we made.
“Carlos Souza came out and threw a really good game and when we come out and support our pitcher we do well, but our errors made his pitch count go up. Austin Cappas and Carlos Drain played good games as well.”
Cappas and Drain tallied half of the six Cougars hits with Cappas going 2 for 3 and doubling in Anthony Faulk (2 for 2, run) in the first inning and Drain was 1 for 3.
Manteca 15, Weston Ranch 3
Joel Gallo fanned six batters in 4 1/3 innings while going 3 for 4 with two RBIs at the plate for the Buffaloes (1-0 VOL, 11-0 overall).
Harley Boynton was also 3 for 4, plating two runs and driving in another. Dylan DePrater and Caden Luke each chipped in two hits and two runs.