By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca downs EU again behind Barber gem
Manteca High catcher Matt Burrows keeps the ball in front of him. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Finishing their Valley Oak League series against East Union with a two-game sweep was important to the Manteca Buffaloes, and a complete-game victory from pitcher Matt Barber helped them accomplish that task in a 5-1 win Thursday.

Manteca (4-0, 6-4-1 overall) took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third after a leadoff double from Barber. Cleanup hitter Matt Burrows hit the first offering he saw into left field advancing Barber to third. C.J. Rivas followed with a deep sacrifice fly to center, scoring Barber and giving the Buffaloes a 2-1 lead.

Things would stay knotted until Manteca added what looked like a final insurance run in the fifth, getting a leadoff walk from Miramontes, free passes to Burrows and Michael Timmins and a check-swing RBI single to left from pinch-hitter Robert Wise.

Wise’s RBI single was evidently more than enough support for Barber, as the senior hurler retired the Lancers in order in the top of the sixth.

“That was really huge for us,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “It kept the momentum on our side. I could tell he was tiring a little bit, but I know how big his heart is.

“I’m going to throw him out there every time and live or die with him.”

Barber went the distance, striking out four and surrendering one earned run. He only gave up seven hits, outdueling East Union starter Jordan Kron. Kron was effective early, settling down after walking two and hitting Miramontes in the first inning. Both teams scored in the first, but Manteca’s came via a bases-loaded walk.

The Lancers had a solid opportunity to get back on the scoreboard in the third, after the second single in as many at bats from John Ott and an untimely infield error left East Union with runners on first and third with two outs. Manteca shortstop Gabe Rellamas secured the Buffaloes’ lead, snagging a ball in the hole, planting and throwing a perfect one-hopper to second for the force out.

“Manteca did exactly what they had to do to score runs,” East Union head coach Dan Triglia said. “They got bunts down, they hit sac-flies, and they hit a chopper over the third baseman’s head. When you put the ball in play, good things can happen. It wasn’t so much that we didn’t play well.

“I thought we played well, they just played a little better.”

Manteca has opened VOL play on a four-game tear, sweeping Lathrop to set up their most recent series. The Buffaloes will get some work in non-league action for three games before getting back on the league grind with a home-home series with Sierra.

“This game was very important for us because we feel like we can’t lose any games if we want to win VOL,” Barber said. “I just tried to play my heart out and let my defense do the work behind me.

“Every out is so important. I don’t look for strikeouts I just try and let my defense get the outs for me.”

Both Ott and Justin Dias were the only Lancers to get multiple hits off Barber, scratching two hits each. Joe Modesto and Chase Agostini both had one hit, with Agostini’s being a double.

Barber finished with two hits and three runs scored, while Burrows finished 1 for 2 and drove in a run. Miramontes went 1 for 2 with a single, two walks and a run scored, while pinch-runner Zachary Gase came around to score after running for Rellamas after reaching on a sixth inning error.