Manteca lost its outright grip on the top spot in the Valley Oak League with its 3-1 defeat at Oakdale Thursday.
Pitcher Lucas Vaughn did his part to give Manteca (8-2 VOL, 14-5 overall) a chance to win, but two errors led to the tying and go-ahead unearned runs in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. The junior righty scattered six hits and struck out five in his solid six-inning start. He did well to match hard-throwing Oakdale ace Bryce Dyrda, who struck out six but walked four and hit one in a three-hitter.
“I thought (Vaughn) pitched very well today, and for the most part I liked the way we played,” Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “The intensity was there. It was the team I was looking forward to seeing show up every day. Even though we lost I’m happy with the way we played. We made a couple of mistakes but they’re correctable.”
Jacob Corn drove in Dominic Pisano (singled) with a sacrifice fly to push Manteca ahead in the top of the fourth inning. Buddy Reeder and Nick Lucchetti accounted for the rest of the Buffaloes’ hits.
Oakdale (8-2, 15-8) answered in the home half of the inning. The Mustangs had their first two batters reach (walk, error), and with two outs Cole Parshall tied it up with a single. They jumped ahead for good an inning later with Tanner Morgan’s RBI double, which followed another costly error by the Manteca defense. Oakdale plated the insurance run in the sixth with Parshall’s well-executed squeeze bunt.
Manteca and Oakdale share first place with four games remaining. Manteca, which was swept by the Mustangs this week, has the toughest closing stretch of any club in the league. The Buffaloes have a two-game set with third-place Kimball (7-3, 16-5-1) next week and close the regular season with postseason hopeful Sierra (6-4, 12-8-1).
Lathrop 8, W. Ranch 3
In Lathrop, the host Spartans (4-6, 9-11) broke the ice with a five-run outburst in the third inning. They took advantage of five walks, an error and a two-run double from Santiago Kantun.
Mikey Pereznegron led the assault with a triple, a home run and four RBIs while going 2 for 2. Brandon Corral went 2 for 2 as well, contributing a steal.
Pereznegron also picked up his second save of the week. He entered the sixth inning nursing a 5-3 lead and went on to strike out three over the final two frames. Starter Preston Rizo fired eight strikeouts and scattered five hits in five innings.
Marcus Vega Tatum crushed a triple, and Jesse Hurtado hammered an RBI double to highlight Weston Ranch (0-10, 2-18).
Ripon Christian 7, Gustine 2
The Knights rolled to their 14th win in 15 games behind Dominic Nelson’s 3-for-3 effort that produced three RBIs. Danny Vander Molen plated two runs and was 2 for 4.
Josh English went the distance for Ripon Christian (11-0, 15-6-1), twirling a three-hitter.