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Buffaloes scrap for preseason-opening win
Manteca speedster Ryan Knisely robs the second-base bag as Turlock infielder Nick Crivelli controls the late throw.
It’s a new year for Manteca under new head coach Gene Ballardo, but the Buffaloes are still the same scrappy baseball team.

Clean-up hitter Kevin Allen drove in the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the fifth as Manteca opened the spring season with a 6-5 victory over visiting Turlock Friday.

Allen finished 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs. Ryan Knisely sparked the Buffaloes from the top of the order, also going 2-for-3 with a run and a two-RBI double in the fourth that gave Manteca its second lead at 4-2.

“Those guys are grinders,” Ballardo said. “It was a back-and-forth game and they faced a little adversity, but they never gave up. They came through with the plays in the end. I’m proud of them.”

Manteca won it with heads-up defensive plays late in the ballgame when the Bulldogs twice threatened to tie it.

With runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth, Manteca catcher Robbie Wise caught Turlock leadoff hitter Colton Pifer stealing second to get the Buffaloes out of the rut.

“I told Robbie, ‘Hey, if you can get him then get him,’” Ballardo said. “(The baserunner) had a bad jump and Robbie made a great throw. That was a key play right there.”

The game ended on an unconventional double play. Turlock’s Nolan Parks flied out deep to right field for the second out, and Nick Crivelli tagged up at third base to plate the would-be tying run. But Crivelli was called out on an appeal for leaving the bag prematurely.

Reliever Matt Barber pitched the final three innings for the win. Starting hurler Curtiss May was untouchable during the first three innings when he allowed just one base runner to reach (error).

May got into trouble in the fourth, though, yielding a leadoff single to Crivelli and a go-ahead two-run homer to Vince Wheeland (2-for-4, 2B, two runs, three RBIs) on his next offering.

“We had him on a pitch count — 40 pitches — and we were going to stick with it no matter what, but he pitched real well for us,” Ballardo said. “As of right now we don’t have a No. 1 (pitcher).

“He’s been throwing the best bullpen sessions, but we’re confident in all of our pitchers. In the scrimmage we had (Thursday) against Hilmar we had five guys combine for a two-hitter.”

Manteca continues its non-league schedule at the Johansen Tournament starting next Wednesday.

Sierra 6, Davis 0
In Modesto, Michaela Scott scored twice to lead the Timberwolves to an easy victory in their season debut.

Nicole Vanni, Mariela Pimentel, Kayla Cody and Hannah O’Banni chipped in a goal apiece.

“It was definitely a nice way to start,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “We played really well and had nice, balanced scoring.”

Sierra heads to Turlock next Tuesday to square off with the2008 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I finalist.

Modesto Junior College men’s team won its third straight event, outpointing host Sacramento City College at the Rotational Meet.
Ripon graduate Kirk Anderson teamed up with East Union alumnus Abdiel Martinez-Ramos in the 4x400 relay, taking first in 3 minutes, 17.60 seconds.