Manteca’s Gino Campiotti broke open a close game in the sixth inning with a bases-clearing double and pitched five innings to get the win for the Buffaloes who beat visiting Golden Valley of Merced 7-2 in non-league baseball action at Manteca High on Thursday.
“I had the hitter’s count at 3-1,” Campiotti said. “So I was looking for something meaty that I could hit and I got a high fastball, which I was kind of waiting on. Anything else I probably wouldn’t have swung.
“I just turned on it and hoped for the best. I thought it was foul off the bat because it was tailing big-time left. I could have sworn it was tailing foul.”
From the mound, Campiotti, gave up just one earned run on two hits with seven strikeouts, a walk and hit batter.
“My defense played incredible behind me the whole game,” Campiotti said. “That is what is good about this team. I feel like if I put the ball on the zone no matter how hard or no matter what I do my defense is behind me and they are going to make plays.
“That’s what you have to do to win. Less free passes – I had a few today I wasn’t really happy about – and let them try to hit the ball because a lot of times it is going to end up in one of our guys’ mitts.”
And one of those mitts belonged to Alex Gouveia at shortstop. Gouveia helped keep the Cougars fourth inning three up, three down when he ranged deep far to his right on a hard-hit grounder and gunned down Sean Bowler at first.
“I was just doing my thing,” Gouveia said. “I was just trying to do the best I could.”
For the second day in a row Andrew Brunn closed out the last two innings on the hill and for the second day in a row he was perfect, tallying three strikeouts.
“Going in there I have the mentality that hitters will hit at best three out of 10 times,” Brunn said. “If you throw strikes you have the odds in your favor, so just throw strikes and it will happen, and mine have a lefty tail on them.”
This was the third victory in as many days for the Buffaloes (7-2), coming off of 6-1 wins against Merced on Tuesday and at Escalon on Wednesday.
“It’s tough playing three consecutive days against three quality opponents,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “Especially with our team being young and having to keep them focused and playing hard – that is a little bit of a challenge three days in a row. But there is enough leadership in that dugout, enough returners and enough competitors that they will grind for seven innings or more if necessary.
“Golden Valley is a much-improved team. Six of their guys were in their starting lineup last year when we played them and it was a tight ball game, so we knew we were up against it.”
The Buffaloes picked up three runs in the second inning behind two Golden Valley errors. Ryan Ward and Zach Chamberlain walked to start off the frame for Manteca. Kenji Breitenbucher grounded into a fielder’s choice that got Chamberlain out at second. With two outs Joel Olmos looked like he had hit into a routine grounder, but the throw to first sailed high, scoring Ward and Breitenbucher. Olmos came in on another error for a 3-0 lead.
Three Manteca batters reached base all four times they batted. Batting cleanup, Campiotti was 2 for 3 with a double, three RBI, a fielder’s choice and a walk; Kyle Rachels had a single, was hit twice and walked once and Chamberlain singled and drew three walks.
Sam Haggerty scored both runs for Golden Valley (3-4), coming home on a passed ball-strikout in the third inning and on a groundout in the fifth.
Golden Valley 2, Manteca 1
Rafael Diaz was dominating on the mound for the Buffaloes, throwing 6.1 innings and giving up one earned run on three hits with 12 strikeouts.
The Cougars’ Jason Raine dealt from the hill as well, pitching five innings while striking out six and allowing one earned run.
Dominic Day knocked in the only run for Manteca.