OAKDALE — Welcome back, Tyler Graves-Kelso.
After missing more than three weeks of action, Manteca’s injury-hampered slugger returned to the lineup Wednesday for the rematch with perennial Valley Oak League contender Oakdale and drove in five runs in a 13-5 victory.
The Buffaloes (2-0 VOL, 8-3 overall) picked up a big early-season sweep after mounting a four-run rally in the seventh inning to knock off the Mustangs (0-2, 6-5) 5-4 on Tuesday.
Graves-Kelso started the season on the mend with a knee injury sustained from the basketball season. After pitching brilliantly in a nonleague win over Argonaut he suffered a cut in his right index finger that required stitches.
“It was up in the air today,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said of Graves-Kelso’s availability. “I had him swing the bat a little bit and made the call to put him in there and he had great at-bats. We’re hoping he heals all the way so that he gets back to the mound pretty soon.”
Graves-Kelso had just one hit in his five plate appearances but it was a big one. His three-run homer to left-center field was part of a staggering six-run barrage in the fourth inning. Manteca, which started out down 3-0 through two innings, led 10-4 after the fourth. Graves-Kelso also had two sacrifice flies.
“We were all geared up because we faced (Austin) Manning (on Tuesday) and that threw us off,” MacDannald said, referencing Oakdale’s hard-throwing ace pitcher. “We were a little out in front and had to stay back. It took us a couple of innings to adjust and once we did we started making loud contact.”
Jake Menasco (2 for 5, double, run) sparked the comeback charge with a leadoff hit in the third inning. The Buffaloes strung together four straight hits including a triple from Mitch Balmut (3 for 5, three runs, two RBIs) and a double from Kyle Rachels. Graves-Kelso capped it off with a sacrifice fly, and just like that the Buffaloes were ahead, 4-3.
Manteca totaled 15 hits. Ronaldo Tijero, who knocked in the winning run on Tuesday, finished 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs. Alex Gouveia was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI, and winning pitcher Devin Sullivan was 2 for 3. Sullivan pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief.
Ben Solorio was 4 for 5 to lead Oakdale.
Manteca will take a break from league play next week but has three nonleague contests scheduled starting with McNair on the road on Tuesday. A two-game set with 8-1 Weston Ranch will follow the following week.
“Oakdale is definitely one of the favorites in our league,” MacDannald said. “We were able to win both games, which is great, but as soon as you look past someone in the VOL, especially this year, you’re going to get beat. Every team can get beat if you don’t have your game ready to go. There are no weeks off this year.”
Ripon Christian 6, Orestimba 2
RIPON — The Knights (2-0, 6-1) continued their sizzling start to the season and needed just five hits to complete the sweep of Orestimba. They were able to take advantage of five walks and three hit batters and scored five of their runs in the third.
Willem Hoekstra (two runs, two steals) and Mike Fisher (RBI) accounted for four of those hits with two apiece. Hoekstra also pitched two shutout innings in relief.
Connor McGovern got the win and struck out six while scattering six hits over five innings.
Venture Academy 0 (5)
Anthony Arredondo went 2 for 3 and pitched a five-inning two-hitter with four strikeouts and two walks for the Timberwolves (3-3).
Sierra broke it open with a six-run second inning powered by doubles from Nick Oseguera (3 for 3, two doubles, two RBIs) and Marcus Castillo. Chase Sperbeck drove in a run and Steven Rios (2 for 3, two RBIs) followed with a two-run single. The Timberwolves went on to plate five more in the third.
Cologio Adames accounted for both hits for the visiting Mustangs (3-2) of Stockton.
Atwater 5, East Union 1
ATWATER —Blackwell pitched four straight perfect innings starting with the second, but he and the Lancers (3-5) were done in by errors as Atwater rolled (1-6) to its first win of the season. Atwater plated two unearned runs in each of the first and sixth innings.
Blackwell gave up just four hits and two walks while striking out three in a complete game.
“He did a great job of pitching to contact and battling, we just did not do an exceptional job of fielding and throwing the ball behind him today,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “That gave Atwater a lot of added opportunities.”
Mason James scored East Union’s lone run in the second, leading off with a hit before touching the plate on an error.