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Buffs jump on Central early in first-round stunner
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Michael Timmins lays out for an out in center field in Manteca Highs postseason contest with Central Catholic Thursday at Tony Zupo Field.

LODI – When the Manteca High baseball team sent 14 batters to the plate and pushed across nine runs in the top of the first inning victory seemed like an afterthought, but that was far from the case as the Central Catholic Raiders fought valiantly only to succumb 13-8 in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs Thursday.

Manteca (18-8) banged out eight hits in that first inning, getting RBI knocks from Danny Gouveia, Kevin Peck, Matt Mueller, Michael Timmins and Daniel Miramontes before the Raiders’ turn at the plate.

Central Catholic (23-5) — champion of the Western Athletic Conference — was able to muster up some fight when its first five batters of the game all reached base against Manteca starter Matt Burrows, with four of the five coming around to score runs. The Raiders were able to get runners on base the remainder of the game, but pushing them around to score became more and more difficult against Burrows.

“I have to tip my hat to Central Catholic, I’ve seen them play before, but that team can flat out swing it,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “They are a great team overall, we just happened to be the better team today.”

Thanks largely in part to Burrows’ effort.

The Manteca senior went all seven innings on the mound, holding Central in check for all but two innings while striking out nine — including two of the final three outs.

“I went and talked to him at the end of the sixth inning and told him ‘Matty, your pitch count is up, we’re going to go with Peck here’,” Ballardo said. “And he looked me in the eyes and said, Coach, I’ve got this, trust me.’

“That’s exactly what I was looking for and he did the job.”

Peck threw a two-hitter and struck out 10 in a 5-0 out-bracket win over River City in Manteca’s postseason opener Monday.

Burrows also helped his cause at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and reaching base four out of his five trips to the plate. Gouveia was 2-for-5 with a pair of run scoring hits in his first three at bats. Leadoff hitter Gabe Rellamas was also 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Miramontes only recorded the one hit, but was walked twice.

The Buffaloes will continue their run Saturday at 9 a.m. when they meet up with crosstown rival East Union to open a best-out-of-three series.

East Union advanced with a 5-0 shutout of Galt High, setting up a showdown between the two Valley Oak League clubs at Tony Zupo Field.

“Our coaches always talk about the midnight rule, when you forget about a win as soon as it hits midnight,” Burrows said. “We’ll show up to the yard ready to work tomorrow and come out prepared on Saturday looking to execute.”