Double plays are always good, and some are just better than others.
With the tying run at the plate and no outs in the bottom of the seventh Thursday, Manteca’s Dylan Gross hit a sharp grounder to Sierra’s Tyler Kiser at second. Kiser raked the bag for one out and doubled up Gross at first to kill the Buffaloes threat on the way to a 5-3 Valley Oak League win and series sweep. It’s also the Timberwolves’ fifth straight win over their rivals.
“I knew we needed to get something done,” Kiser said. “They had a runner on first with nobody out.
“I saw that ball get through and I was right place, right time. I got the ball, hit the base and knew I had plenty of time so I was not trying to rush anything.”
That was Kiser’s second 4-3 double play of the game.
“We had a couple of big momentum shifts and we hit into two costly double plays, but we were hitting the ball hard,” Buffaloes coach Neil MacDannald said. “That’s baseball for you. But at least I will be able to sleep tonight because we were not as generous today as we were Wednesday. We will live with that and with that kind of effort we will be on the plus side more often than not.
“Raf (Rafael Diaz) pitched well. He gave us a chance to win and it was clearly a lot cleaner game than Wednesday’s game. In the end we just didn’t make enough plays. Hats off to those guys — they are a good team and they got us.”
After rehabbing from an off-season injury, Sierra’s Louis Aquila toed the rubber for the first time this season, relieving in the sixth inning and did not disappoint, throwing two no-hit innings with two strikeouts. He reached base four times, going 3 for 4 with a pair of RBI.
“This is probably one of the best-hitting games I have had in a while,” Aquila said. “Everything was up the middle or oppo (opposite field) except that last one where I got on top of it a little.
“For pitching, this is my first game on the mound this season and to shut them out for two innings is an amazing feeling. I am just happy to be back.”
Slyder Blyth went the first five for the Timberwolves, striking out two and allowing five hits. He was victimized by a bad-hop two-RBI single in the third inning by Dylan Gross, scoring Alex Gouveia and Ryan Ward to put Manteca (2-4 VOL, 11-8 overall) ahead 2-0. After Gross reached on an error in the fifth inning he scored on a single by Zach Todd to draw the Buffaloes back to within 4-3.
“It’s tough when they score runs like they did,” Blyth said. “But eventually we picked ourselves up.”
Julian Cantu sliced a one-out triple for Sierra in the fourth and scored on an Aquila single to cut the Manteca lead to 2-1. The Timberwolves scored three in the fifth to make the score 4-2 when Blythe, Deshon Thomas (2 for 3, run) and Matt Dunham all singled and scored with Dunham knocking in Blyth, Thomas avoiding a tag at home on a fielder’s choice by Jesse Ortiz-Martinez and Aquila plating Dunham on a single.
Ortiz-Martinez capped the scoring in the seventh when he singled, took second on a walk to Cantu and when advancing to third on a wild pitch the throw to third sailed into left, allowing Ortiz-Martinez to score.
With four league games remaining, Sierra ran its record to 8-0, 16-3-1, three games ahead of second-place Oakdale.
“When you go 6-0, some teams might say 7-1 or 6-2 isn’t that bad,” Timberwolves coach Travis Thomson said. “You see it when they play — they won’t be satisfied with 12-0. They keep wanting more and it shows.
“When we are behind, they are all in. This was another come-from-behind win for us. I was happy with the effort even when we weren’t getting hits because we were hitting the ball hard.”
Sierra 7, Manteca 5
Brendan Rapisura went 3 for 4 with a double to lead the Timberwolves.
Zach Fonseca went 2 for 4 with a two-run single in sixth for Sierra and Sonny Elder had a double. Jakob Lopez pitched the seventh inning for the win.