Manteca’s Isaac Maldonado and Ferrin Manuleleua came up with a couple of big hits in the fifth inning to give the Buffaloes some breathing room in a 4-3 win over visiting Sierra in Valley Oak League baseball action.
With two outs and Gino Campiotti on first base with Manteca (2-3 VOL, 10-5 overall) leading 2-1 in the fifth, Maldonado (2 for 3, double, RBI) ripped a double to center field to plate Campiotti and bump the lead to 3-1.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and find a pitch that I could hit.” Maldonado said. “And both of them were belt-high fastballs.”
Maldonado found his way home on a single by that proved to be the difference in the game.
“I just saw the ball really well,” Manuleleua said. “When they threw off-speed I knew how to adjust.”
Ryan Ward gave up a first-inning run to the Timberwolves (2-1, 7-4) when leadoff batter Chase Sperbeck walked, stole second and came home when a double-play attempt off the bat of Jacob Peterson turned into a Buffaloes error. After that, Ward pitched through the fifth and allowed just two more runners into scoring position, striking out five and walking seven.
“Ryan (Ward) had a little bit of struggles with the strike zone,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “But after he settled down he put the ball in the strike zone and we like our chances with our defense when that happens. Aside from Chase (Sperbeck) getting on every time for them – three walks and he got hit and that made him a tough out – once we made adjustments and made them put the ball into play things fell into place.
“That’s the kind of game you would imagine from two teams like ours. Neither one of our teams right now have someone who is hitting the cover off of the ball, but both teams play fairly solid defense and rely on that. Obviously, we made enough plays to win this game, and that’s great.”
Sierra left eight runners on base, three in scoring position.
“We had a guy at second base with nobody out and we didn’t score,” Timberwolves coach Jack Thomson said. “If you’re good you need to score and we didn’t do our job.
“Give them credit. They played well and we never delivered a blow to get any separation. We had our chances.”
Hunter Frisk led off the Sierra sixth with a single and was bumped to second on Marcos Castillo’s single. A two-out walk to Jaden Pina loaded the bases for Frisk to come in when Sperbeck was hit by a pitch. Castillo scampered home on a passed ball to make the score 4-3 and that was as close as the Timberwolves would get.
Buffaloes leadoff batter Joel Olmos reached base in all four of his trips, going 2 for 3 with a walk and he reached on an error.