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Buffs blank Hughson in combined 2-hitter
Hughson-Manteca baseball
Manteca’s Rex Watson gets ready to leave the batter’s box after making contact. He went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run in in the nonleague game against visiting Hughson on Wednesday. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Visiting Hughson got some baserunners Wednesday, but none got past second base as Manteca pitchers Jeremy Cross, Michael George and Rex Watson combined to two-hit the Huskies while striking out 12 on the way to a 4-0 non-league baseball win.

“Our pitchers had really good tempo today,” Buffaloes coach Mark Ruiz said. “That helped a lot and helped our defense.

“On offense, we had a pretty good approach at the plate today, and we scored just enough to get the win. But like I said, pitching carried us today. I am very happy with that.”

Cross started and went four innings, striking out six and allowing a hit. George came on for two innings and struck out four, including fanning the side in the fifth, and allowed a hit. After a stellar day at the plate Watson mopped up in the seventh, setting down the side in order and striking out two.

Watson reached base three times, going 2 for 3 with a fielder’s choice, knocking in and scoring a run while chasing down a pair of fly balls in center field.

“I knew I was going to be closing today, so I had to mentally prepare for that since I haven’t pitched in years,” Watson said. “But we have been preparing in practice, so I knew I had to get it over the strike zone and hopefully get some outs.

“At the plate, I was trying to drive the ball oppo, but I pulled a few balls and they ended up falling or going through. I was just trying to get the job done.”

Freshman third baseman Nate Slikker came through on both sides of the ball for Manteca (2-0-1), going 2 for 3 with a triple and an RBI. With runners on first and second for Hughson (2-1) and one out in the third Slikker fielded a screaming ground ball at third, stepped on the bag for the force and rifled the ball to first for the double play.

“I was trying not to do too much at the plate,” Slikker said. “I wanted to see the ball and drive it, just to be loose out there.

“On that double play, we needed outs and I trusted myself to grab the ball and threw a strike across the field to end the inning.”

The Buffaloes wasted little time in scoring. Noah Navarro led off the first inning with a bloop single to left field and was advanced to second on an Eddie Anthony walk. Watson advanced both runners on a single and Navarro scored on a Cameron Jiminez groundout. Anthony (2 for 2, two runs) then scooted home on a wild pitch for a 2-0 Manteca lead.

The Buffaloes doubled their lead in the third. With one out Anthony snuck a one-out single between short and second, took second on an errant pickoff attempt, went to third on a wild pitch and came home on an infield single by Watson.

Watson stole second, took third on another Jiminez groundout and scored on Slikker’s triple for what proved to be the final score of 4-0.

Carlos Guizar and Blaine Fusi had the lone singles for the Huskies.

Manteca hosts Tokay on Friday afternoon at 3:30.