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Buffaloes blast Franklin in TGKs return to mound
BB--Franklin-Manteca pic 5
Mantecas Tyler Graves-Kelso allowed three hits and one run in five innings while striking out five. - photo by DAVE CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Base running miscues and stellar defense from visiting Franklin of Stockton killed the first two Buffaloes scoring rallies.

None of that mattered, as Manteca exploded for eight runs in the fourth and rode the arm of Tyler Graves-Kelso on the way to an 11-1, five-inning nonleague victory on Thursday. 

“Even though we came away the first couple of innings knocking on the door, we put pressure on them every inning,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said.  “When you continue to put pressure on a team at some point somebody is going to get that big hit. They are going to crack just enough for us and that is what happened.

Graves-Kelso gave up just three hits and one run, striking out five and retiring seven of the last eight batters he faced. He pitched for the first time in a month after cutting his right index finger.

“I was just trying to get ahead in the count,” Graves Kelso said. “I feel like when I get ahead I am in control and then I try and work off-speed to get strikeouts.  Once I get my first-pitch strike I was able to continue the flow of the game.”

There were two spectacular defensive plays in the game – one by Graves-Kelso in the third inning when he sold out to snag a line drive up the middle.

In the fifth inning, Buffaloes right-fielder Mitch Balmut (2 for 4, RBI, two runs) took a perfect angle on a ball hit deep behind him and fully extended for the second out of the frame.

“I just dove because I thought I could catch it and I did,” Balmut said. “I didn’t think I had it off the bat but when I got closer and closer I thought I might have a chance. I told myself, ‘It’s coming in – I’ve got this,’ and I laid out for it. I got up and smiled.”

Manteca (10-4) had just one error.

“We are playing pretty decent defense,” MacDannald said. “Our outfielders pride themselves on being playmakers. Mitch (Balmut) has played second base pretty much his whole baseball career and last year as a junior we needed him to play outfield and he is guy that continues to get better and better.

“And to play right field in our yard (looking into the sun) you have to be a special player and he is a super-hard worker and is highly skilled. He has worked himself into being a very, very good player. He should be really proud of what he has done.”

The Yellowjackets (4-5) give up three two-RBI singles in the fourth inning – one to Graves-Kelso (run), one to Kyle Rachels (2 for 3, triple, three RBI, run) and the other to Zach Chamberlain (3 for 3, two RBI, run.)

“Their pitcher had some nasty stuff,” Chamberlain said. “It was kind of hard to stay back on it but you just have to let it get deep.

“I was just trying to get the job done.”

Rachels went 0 for 2 in his first two at-bats before his two-RBI single in the fourth and a walk-off RBI triple in the fifth that scored Balmut to end the game via the mercy rule.

Brett Kovacs was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run for the Buffaloes and teammate Ronaldo Tijero went 2 for 4 with two runs.


East Union 5, Sierra 3

The Lancers (4-0 VOL, 7-3) rallied for three runs in the fifth inning to nudge past the host Timberwolves on Thursday.

Braydin Abreu, who came in relief, earned the win for East Union by going 2 1/3 innings, giving up a run, two hits, two walks and four strikeouts.

Evan Heath nailed down the save by retiring the final batter with two aboard. At the plate, he was 1 for 3 and scored a run.

Tyrus Harper was the hitting star for the Lancers. He went 2 for 3 with three RBI and drew a pair of walks.

The Lancers’ starting pitcher Andrew Mount went four innings, fanning seven and allowing two runs before yielding to Samuel Nieves in the fifth.