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Buffaloes secure No. 2 playoff seed
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WESTON RANCH — Manteca High’s baseball team is heading into the playoffs with momentum on its side.

The Buffaloes dealt the Weston Ranch Cougars a 12-5 defeat, winning four of their last five contests including one against top-seeded Oakdale and rounding out the Valley Oak League season with a win to accomplish an early goal they set at the start of the season.

Manteca will face either River City of West Sacramento or Rio Linda at the Dan McAuliffe Memorial Ballpark in Sacramento on Wednesday in Sacramento at 4 p.m. The Buffaloes (12-4 VOL, 17-8 overall) were technically tied with Sonora in league play, but swept them in both games earlier this season to take the No.2 seed.

“I’m very proud of the kids and how they played today. We had two goals this season, and the first was to win a league title and we fell a little short of that,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “But our other goal was to capture a playoff berth and we did while we’re playing really good baseball right now.”

Manteca catcher Matt Burrows proved to be a terror for Weston Ranch (3-13, 7-18) in Thursday’s victory with his dynamic 4 for 4 plate appearance that included a home run, three RBIs and three runs.

But that’s not to say that Weston Ranch didn’t have a few bright spots of its own.

Chris Contreras hammered two doubles in a 2 for 3 outing at the plate, driving in three runs, while teammate Antonio Joseph was 3 for 3 with a stolen base and a pair of runs scored.

“For the last game of the season, I thought that the guys played hard and I’m proud of them for that,” Weston Ranch head coach Dave Smith said. “We just came up a little short in the end.”

Manteca starter pitcher Matt Barber threw five innings from the mound – giving up only three earned – and helped his line by hitting 2 for 5 with a pair of RBIs.

Michael Timmons also finished the day 3 for 4 at the plate.

“We’re a young team, but the kids are definitely ready for the challenge that is ahead of us,” Ballardo said. “Everybody is always ready to go out and do what needs to be done, and at this point we’re looking to extend the season for the seniors.”

— Jason Campbell