STOCKTON – Once the Manteca baseball team got going, it got going.
The Buffaloes loaded the bases in the first inning against host Weston Ranch on Tuesday but could not muster a run. All that changed in the second inning when Manteca took advantage of four Cougars errors for eight runs on the way to an 11-2 Valley Oak League win at Weston Ranch.
“After that first inning when we once again had the bases loaded with no outs and didn’t score we put some more pressure on them in the next inning and finally broke through,” Buffaloes coach Neil MacDannald said. “Once that happened I think we kind of exhaled and decided to play baseball.
“Obviously, Ryan (Ward) battled today. He was in the dugout for extended periods of time and it is kind of tough to get in a rhythm. It’s a great luxury to be on offense for extended periods of time but it is kind of tough to stay sharp on the mound.”
Freshman Ward had another stellar outing on the mound, sprinkling five hits through the complete-game victory while striking out four and retiring six of the last eight batters he faced including a 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts.
Ward did his part at the plate too, going 2 for 4 with two runs.
“At the plate I was just trying to make contact,” Ward said. “But we were in the dugout for a while and my arm was getting cold.
“And I knew they had some tough hitters so I had to pitch around them, throw strikes and let my defense do the job.”
Leadoff batter Joel Olmos did his job for Manteca (1-2 VOL, 8-4 overall), getting on base four times out of five trips – twice on errors, once on a walk and once when hit by a pitch.
“Even if I don’t have the greatest day at the plate I still try and get on base,” Olmos said. “That gives the team opportunities to get runs in and we capitalized on it today.”
Alex Gouveia batted behind Olmos and got hits in his first four at-bats, finishing 4 for 5 with two RBI and a run.
“I was just seeing the ball well,” Gouveia said. “I just try and make solid contact every time I step up to the plate.”
Playing shortstop, Gouveia was in on two inning-ending double plays with Kyle Rachels at second and Gino Campiotti at first.
“I was just doing my job in the field,” Gouveia said.
Cuyler Reynolds (2 for 3, two RBI) knocked in both runs for Weston Ranch (0-1, 8-4), plating Carlos Drain in the second inning and Ryan Tinsley in the fourth.
“Manteca came out and played hard,” Cougars coach David Hager said. “They did exactly what they needed to do. They put the ball in play, they took extra bases when they could and they came in hungry.
“They just wanted to win more than we did today. Give Coach MacDannald credit – they played hard and they played the game the right way. I don’t know if we had mental lapses or what the issue was today but we certainly took plays off and it cost us.”
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The Buffaloes’ Dylan Gross did not give up a hit until the seventh inning, striking out 10 with just one hit.
Rafael Diaz (3 for 5) and Gross (2 for 4) each had three RBI for Manteca which boosted its record to 3-0 VOL, 10-1 overall.