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BASEBALL: Manteca caps season-opening sweep of Ripon Christian
Bulletin sports 2020-21
Manteca pitcher Alex Murrietta delivers from the mound while first baseman Zach Todd stays ready in the top of the fourth inning Thursday against visiting Ripon Christian. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Manteca coach Mark Ruiz likes the fight he sees out of his young club so far this season. 

Bulletin sports 2020-21
Emiliano Cruz pulls it down the first-base line to drive in a Manteca run against Ripon Christian in the bottom of the fifth inning Thursday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Ripon Christian's John de Visser wants to see more of that out of his.

Ruiz's Buffaloes locked down a two-game sweep to start Valley Oak League play Thursday with a 10-3 victory. Manteca (2-0) took the opener Tuesday, 6-2.

“It was a good week for us,” Ruiz said. “Overall, our pitchers competed in the zone and that was a strength of ours this week. Making in-game adjustments here and there. I thought they did a good job of that as well.

“I liked the way we competed this whole week,” he added. “Everybody is staying in the game and I want to continue to see that week in and week out.”

Sophomore pitcher Alex Murrietta won his varsity debut for Manteca, finishing with three strikeouts against one walk, five hits and a run in four innings. Ripon Christian (0-2) got its first run in the fourth when Jacob Kowes (2 for 3) led off with a double and Eli Terpsma drove him in with a two-bagger of his own.

The Buffs already had eight runs at that point, and Ruiz called on 6-foot-2 junior lefty Amrit Dehal to keep the Knights at bay. Dehal struck out the side in order in the fifth, totaling seven strikeouts over the final three innings. 

Ripon Christian was able to scratch across to unearned runs in the seventh after Will Gilbert's shallow pop-up to center field was misplayed with two outs. Pinch-hitter Cam Hoffman led off the inning with an infield hit, breaking up Dehal's bid for a perfect outing. 

“Just wanted to get them some innings since they haven't been able to play,” Ruiz said. “Switching it up to see some of our guys and what can they do, is what it boils down to.”

Manteca got all of the runs it needed in the first, capitalizing on two errors, two walks and a hit batsman. Sonny Elder drove in a run with a fielder's choice, and Mikey Elder added an RBI single. 

Landan Chamberlain belted an RBI single to left during the Buffaloes' two-run second inning. They added one more in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings. Jayson Ingraca doubled in the fifth and was driven home by Emiliano Cruz (2 for 3, two runs), who reached base four times. 

Manteca was able to make the most of its seven hits. Ripon Christian helped the host club by committing five errors and walking six batters.

“Didn't like the effort and attitude today, at all,” Ripon Christian coach John de Visser said. “That's not our program. That didn't even remotely resemble what we do. There were some good things today, but the effort and attitude have to show up first. We'll get it cleaned up. I'm a little disappointed right now.”

Ripon Christian did have some highlights. Sophomore third baseman Eli Terpsma made the defensive play of the game in the fourth, leaping vertically to bring down Chamberlain's high chopper and gunning him down at first with an off-kilter throw from the base line.  

With his team facing much larger schools from the competitive VOL this season, de Visser is hoping the experience serves the Knights well in the future when they return to the Southern Athletic League.

“We are young but that's no excuse,” he said. “That's a good baseball team over there and it's going to be like this the whole time for us. We have Oakdale next week and that's going to be another tough one. We just gotta try and do our best to get these underclassmen ready.”

Bulletin sports 2020-21
Landan Chamberlain steals third base for Manteca, beating the tag from Ripon Christian's Eli Terpsma. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin