STOCKTON — Weston Ranch is again proving to be a difficult out in the Valley Oak League.
After getting 10-runned at Manteca two days prior, the Cougars had a chance to even the score but wound up dropping a heartbreaking 3-2 decision in eight innings Friday. Pinch-hitter Isaiah Perez came through with the go-ahead single for the visiting Buffaloes (2-0 Valley Oak League, 10-4 overall), plating pinch-runner Tyler Garlets.
Perez’s hit was set up by an error on a double-play attempt from the Weston Ranch defense. Manteca has won 13 of its last 14 against the Cougars starting in 2013.
“If we compete, take care of the baseball and do the little things to be successful we’re going to be OK,” Weston Ranch coach David Hager said. “Unfortunately, at the end of the game, we got a little excited and amped and threw the ball away on the back end of a 4-6-3 double play.
“Give Manteca credit, they never backed down and neither did we. It was a great baseball game to be a part of.”
There were few offensive highlights in this one, as clutch pitching stole the show. Manteca grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth when Dom Rea laced a two-out double and was later driven in on Alex Gouveia’s two-run double.
Austin Cappas was otherwise stellar for the Cougars (0-2, 8-6), striking out seven in five-plus innings. Reliever Anthony Faulk took the hard-luck loss.
“I’m really proud of our guys on the mound today,” Hager said. “Austin Cappas had all of his pitches working, kept Manteca off balance and we played decent defense behind him. I couldn’t have have asked more from either one of those two.”
Amier Bowen led the Cougars attack, going 2 for 3 with two walks, a run and a steal. Manteca pitchers Rafael Diaz and Austin Kovacs were able to keep them from breaking out. Diaz fanned eight batters and surrendered two runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings. Kovacs, who was also 2 for 3 at the plate, got the win after two relief innings but had some nervous moments.
Weston Ranch threatened to win it in the bottom of the seventh, betting a leadoff walk from Bowen. Isaiah Maxie reached with a hit, and Atlantis Gholston moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Carlos Souza was then intentionally walked to load the bases with one out.
Kovacs struck out the next two batters to send it into extra innings.
“Extremely proud of Raf and AJ today,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “They pitched their tails off. Raf battled and had great command all day. AJ was nails as well.”
Oakdale 8, East Union 5
OAKDALE — A five-run second inning was the difference for Oakdale (2-0, 8-3), which completed the VOL sweep.
The Lancers (0-2, 8-5) did well to battle back, getting a three-run homer from Daniel Ruiz in the fourth to close in, 5-4. Sammy Nieves blasted a solo shot in the top of the seventh, but the Mustangs had already gotten their insurance runs by then.
Jacob Solorio led Oakdale with a double, a triple, a sacrifice fly and two RBIs.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of grit and energy with great determination to claw themselves back into the game,” East Union coach Gene Ballardo said. “
Ripon Christian 4, Le Grand 3
RIPON — After plating three runs in the first two innings, the Knights (4-0, 8-3 overall) didn’t score again until the bottom of the ninth when Brock Nunes laced a walk-off single to left-center field in the Southern Athletic League meeting. Nunes finished 2 for 4.
Dale Fisher hit 3 for 5 with a triple and an RBI. Nolan Lingley also had a triple and an RBI. Starting pitcher Ian Vrieling fired seven strikeouts in six innings. Sophomore Will Gilbert got the win, pitching three scoreless innings in the combined three-hitter.
Manteca 18, Weston Ranch 1
STOCKTON — Dylan Deprater and Quino Gurrola split time on the mound, combining for six strikeouts and a one-hitter for the undefeated Buffaloes (2-0 VOL, 12-0 overall).
Gurrola was also 2 for 3 with three RBIs at the plate. Harley Boynton also drove in three runs. Kaden Luke and Amrit Dehal scored two runs to go with two RBIs. Karson Condit plated three runs.
East Union 7, Oakdale 3
OAKDALE — The Lancers (2-0, 8-3) broke away from a 3-3 tie by scoring runs in each of the final three innings.
Nolan Calmes and Anthony Flores drove in a run apiece, while Willie Segura and Mateo Guevara each scored twice. Segura also legged out a double.
Benjamin Slaughter was one of three pitchers for East Union, logging 5 2/3 innings.