Make way for the underclassmen.
In the first two games with Kimball this week, Manteca threw their senior pitchers at the Jaguars and blanked them. On Friday, the Buffaloes started freshman Tristan Murphy. He was relieved by junior Michael George before senior Alex Murietta mopped up the seventh inning in a 4-1 Valley Oak League win for host Manteca for a three-game sweep over Kimball.
“We have a lot of confidence in all of our pitchers,” Buffaloes coach Mark Ruiz said. “We brought our freshman (Murphy) out and wanted him to get a taste of league.
“He did a good job, and then Mr. Reliable, Michael George, was able to go in there and pound the zone and eat up some innings, and then we closed with Alex Murietta. We are confident with all our pitchers.”
Murphy pitched 2.2 innings with four strikeouts and one hit with a walk and a hit batter. George took the mound with two on and two out and got out of the jam with one pitch on a fly ball to center fielder Rex Watson.
With two on and two out in the sixth, Murphy came up with a big strikeout to end the threat in what would be his last batter.
Murietta came on in the seventh for a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two.
“I just had to trust in my defense when I came in,” George said. “I tried to throw a strike and let the hitter hit the ball and the defense got it done.
“The whole game I was feeling good and trying to throw strikes. I got a little loose in my last inning and walked two, but I had trust in my defense the whole time, and I had trust in myself too, so I got it right back after that.”
Murietta (2 for 3, two RBI, run) did more than close out the game. He had a two-out RBI double in the first inning and a two-out RBI single in the third inning with both scoring Landon Chamberlain. His double that scored Chamberlain was a hit and run.
“On that hit and run I was just trying to execute and do my job,” Murietta said. “Just trying to move runners around and that’s what I did.
“I got the bat on the ball, we executed and we were able to score on that.”
Preston Smith singled in Murietta in the third and went from first to third in the sixth on a hit and run by Colton Murillo and came home on a sacrifice bunt from Jace Quitasol.
Smith stole second and third in the third.
“Our coach gave me the green light to steal,” Smith said. “And I just took it as I saw it.
“They gave it to me and I went. Both times.”
Also in the third inning Murietta stole a base and Chamberlain took from first to third on wild pitches.
“We were able to execute different things offensively,” Ruiz said, “We’re not a team that’s just going to bang the ball around the yard. We just have to do the little things correct.
“We did just that and it helped us win.”
Jaden Ramirez got Kimball (0-5 VOL, 2-12 overall) on the board in the fourth when he scored on a two-out single by Erik Nuno.
Manteca (3-0, 10-3) opens its three-game league series with Manteca at Agostini field on Monday at 4 p.m.