In the Buffaloes’ 1-0 Valley Oak League victory Tuesday over Weston Ranch High, Selena Gonzalez guessed right on the pitch.
As a result, the Manteca High junior broke a scoreless game in the third inning with an RBI single.
Brooke Mejorado led off the frame with a walk and was moved into scoring position soon after. With runners at second and third and two outs, the Cougars (1-2, 7-3) called for a timeout.
“Selena thought (Weston Ranch) might try pitching her away,” said Manteca coach Corey Navarro. “I told her to go with the pitch.”
She did just that, promptly depositing a single into left field.
The Buffaloes (2-0, 7-3) survived a shaky start, putting a pair of runners aboard with a hit batsman and an error.
Manteca had a chance to mount a threat in the home half of the first but Cougars catcher Naomi Thurman gunned out the attempted base stealer.
Weston Ranch left runners stranded on base in the second and third.
Ahead 1-0, the Buffaloes had a chance to add more in the fourth. Hailee Teixeira had leadoff single and Monique Colunga followed with a double.
But Weston Ranch pitcher Arianna Hernandez worked out of the jam with a ground out and infield popup. Manteca also missed a squeeze play, with Thurmond making the tag while chasing the runner back to third.
Thurmond doubled in the fifth and Alexandra Alvarado followed with a single. With one out, Hernandez nearly helped her cause, driving a ball to deep right. But Manteca’s Annissa Gonzalez registered the putout followed by snagging a sinking line drive to end the threat.
The Buffaloes had runners at first and second with one out in fifth. Weston Ranch coach Janelle Bauer called for the intentional walk to load the bases.
The strategy paid off.
Cougar center fielder Mia Thurmond turned the double play, hauling in the fly ball and firing a one-hopper to Naomi Thurmond behind the plate to gun down the runner trying to score.
“It was a nicely executed play,” said Bauer, who also praised Mia’s throw and Naomi’s effort to block the plate.
Weston Ranch got the leadoff runner on base in the sixth and seventh. Manteca behind the pitching of Peyton Rose kept the Cougars in check.
“Peyton threw a good game,” said Navarro. “She showed great composure.”
Rose scattered five hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
Arianna Hernandez also yielded five hits for Weston Ranch. She issued five walks while fanning three.
“I was disappointed with the loss,” Bauer said. “Still, it was a good game – Arianna pitched a great game.”