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First-year Lathrop struggles from the mound
Manteca shortstop Gabe Rellamas holds up the tag after Lathrop’s Rene Zuniga was gunned down on a stolen base attempt by catcher Robert Wise. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
After one inning of play, the Lathrop Spartans looked as if competing in its Valley Oak League debut would not be a problem, but two huge innings and 14 runs later Manteca High showed that would not be the case in a 15-0 shellacking Tuesday.

Manteca (1-0 VOL, 3-4-1) pushed across a run in the first on a walk and stolen base from Matt Barber, followed by an RBI single from starting pitcher Matt Burrows. That would be all the support Burrows would need, but the Buffaloes would add five in the second and nine in the third to put things out of reach.

Lathrop (0-1, 2-3) starting pitcher Oscar Calix opened the game striking out Gabe Rellamas but found himself in quick trouble in the second inning, surrendering five runs before he could get the second out.

“The difference between the two innings is once he started missing locations they made it hurt,” Lathrop head coach Randy Baltazar said. “Give credit to Manteca, they were patient at the plate, they had an approach and they executed well.

“We didn’t make plays behind Oscar, but as a pitcher you have to throw strikes.”

The Buffaloes’ breakout second inning started when Robert Wise was beaned, and Calix would walk the next three hitters in succession. Daniel Miramontes, Burrows and Cory Vanwarmendam all followed with run-scoring base singles.

“Their pitcher got into a little trouble walking some guys, and we were able to get a couple of clutch hits,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “That’s what good teams do; they capitalize on walks and mistakes and that is pretty much what happened.”

Lathrop’s offense was limited to say the least. The Spartans got a knock from Kevin Howard on the first pitch of the game, but Lathrop would not get another hit until a single from starting catcher Rene Zuniga in the fourth inning. Calix, Howard and Michael Lopez all reached base on walks.

Burrows and Miramontes were the only Buffaloes to finish with multiple hits, with Burrows going 3 for 3 with a pair of RBIs. Miramontes was 2 for 3 with a double and a single.

“Last time out I didn’t hit the ball all that great, so I wanted to come out and hit the ball hard somewhere and help our team out with some RBIs” Burrows said. “We wanted to keep hitting and make sure that we finished the game, instead of getting up early and giving our lead back.”

Burrows was as impressive on the mound, going the distance for the Buffaloes and striking out nine in just five innings of work. Burrows surrendered two hits and three walks.

Manteca cannot afford to take the Spartans lightly in Thursday’s meeting if its plans are to compete for a postseason berth. The Buffaloes will have to beat teams they will struggle with as well as teams they should dominate.

“These guys know that any team that has on a uniform and is on the field,” Ballardo said. “Is more than capable of beating us.

“They know that and that point has gotten across.”