Manteca lost its second game in as many days Friday, but head coach Neil MacDannald is nowhere close to hitting the panic button.
The Buffaloes left 10 runners on base and committed six errors in a 9-6 loss to visiting Golden Valley of Merced. The defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champions were 3-0 to start the year until losing Thursday at Pitman, 14-3.
Fourth-year varsity player Dominic Pisano is Manteca’s only returning starter, so MacDannald is practicing patience as the Buffaloes work through a busy nonleague schedule. Pisano was 3 for 4 with two runs Friday.
“The rest of the kids are learning on the job and that’s to be expected,” MacDannald said. “We’re playing some pretty good teams that make you play when you don’t play catch and that’s the way baseball should be; you shouldn’t be able to get away with too many mistakes.
“We’re a young team that is bound to get better because we work hard and it’s going to pay off by the time we get to league,” he added. “I know we’re capable and we’ll work to get to that standard that we expect.”
Golden Valley (1-0) simply made more big plays, be it on offense or defense, than Manteca. Brady Mello and Mark Tomai hit back-to-back flares to right field for RBI doubles to cap the Cougars four-run fourth inning that gave them a 9-3 lead.
The defense later came through to help preserve the cushion. Ronaldo Tijero led off the fourth with a walk and scored on Pisano’s single, but the no-out rally was cut short when Tomai caught a fly ball in right field and threw out a runner tagging up from third base for a double play. Then in the fifth, shortstop Caleb Lopez turned an unassisted double play after Sam Rohovit reached on an error.
“We did a good job of ending some of their rallies, making the throw or the big play to shut them down,” Golden Valley coach Richard Solis said. “They were in position a couple times to really get a big inning and we kept it small. That really helped us out.”
Garrett Nishihama was 3 for 5 with a double, and Lopez plated three runs for Golden Valley. Eddie Aguayo pitched four-plus innings in relief for the win, and C.J. Soza shut the door on the Buffaloes in the seventh inning after Pisano and Greg Jones scored the final runs with one out. Soza toed the pitching runner with the bases loaded but clinched the win with a strikeout and groundout on four pitches.
“Every inning we put pressure on them, we just couldn’t get that one big hit,” MacDannald said.
Lodi 11, East Union 4
At Zupo Field in Lodi, the Lancers (0-4) were closing in on their first win of the season with a 4-3 lead going into the sixth.
East Union went on to commit all four of its errors in the sixth inning, leading to eight runs for the Flames (2-0). Starting pitcher Lucas Garcia did his part to keep the team in it early. He scattered eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, and four of the eight runs he surrendered were unearned.
Jake Graves (RBI double), Kyle Emerson and Gabe Chavez each had two hits for the Lancers.
Sierra 4, Atwater 0
In Atwater, Leo Soto (five innings, four strikeouts, three hits) and Ryan Vasquez combined for a five-hit shutout and were backed by an error-free effort from the defense.
Bailey Mittman (RBI) and Vasquez (RBI double) each hit 2 for 3. Anthony Arredondo and Ryan Bergman both legged out a double.
Lathrop 13, Franklin 3
The Spartans (1-2) opened their four-team, round-robin tournament with a five-inning victory.
Santiago Kantun anchored the win in a four-inning start from the pitcher’s mound. Johnny McQuaig was 2 for 3 with three RBIs to lead the offense. Sophomores Ross Tisdell and David Gonzalez each scored three runs.
Lathrop resumes tournament action this morning at 10 against Argonaut. Chavez is next at 1 p.m.