MODESTO — Manteca’s lead in the Valley Oak League keeps getting wider, even if it takes some close calls to get the Buffaloes to where they’re at.
Facing Central Catholic in a battle between the league’s top two clubs, Manteca overcame an early four-run deficit and four errors to prevail, 11-8.
The Buffaloes (7-0 VOL, 15-4 overall) have opened up a three-game lead over Central Catholic (4-3, 10-9) and two others tied for second place at the midway point of the league schedule. They previously needed seventh-inning comebacks to knock off Oakdale and Sierra. Manteca didn’t wait as long to erupt in its first of two games with the Raiders, plating eight in the fifth and sixth innings to surge ahead for good.
“Extremely proud of our kids for fighting until the end,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said.”Although I don’t want it to become a habit, it’s nice to know that we will never give up. We didn’t play catch like we know how but had some good at-bats when it counted.”
Sam Mundt drilled a three-run homer in the bottom of the first to get the Raiders rolling early and extended the lead to 4-0 on a double-steal play in the second.
In the fifth, Brett Kovacs’ two-run double pushed the Buffaloes ahead 6-5, and sophomore Kyle Rachels (2 for 4) gave them all the insurance they needed with a three-run homer in the sixth. Mitch Balmut finished 3 for 4 with three runs scored, and Jake Menasco went 2 for 5 with a double and two runs. Manteca ended up with 14 hits.
Winning pitcher Tyler Graves-Kelso struck out five and gave up five walks, six hits and five runs (three earned) over five innings. Devin Sullivan pitched the final two frames.
“We have to be ready to work and know they’re coming Friday ready to play,” MacDannald said. “We have to get back to Manteca baseball and take care of the baseball to go along with our good approach at the plate.”
Kimball 4, Sierra 2
The Timberwolves (3-4, 9-7) dropped their third straight and are now in a two-way tie for fifth with Kimball (3-4, 12-6), which blasted three doubles and a triple while taking advantage of three errors.
Chase Sperbeck was 2 for 3 to lead Sierra. Steve Rios and Nick Oseguera drove in the team’s runs.
Weston Ranch 1
STOCKTON — Jordan Severin knocked in C.J. Drain in the bottom of the first inning, but it was all Oakdale (4-3, 13-6) from there. The Mustangs broke away late with two runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings, and Bryce Kirk led the charge with a 4-for-4 effort.
Oakdale pitcher Austin Manning walked four and hit one but was able to limit the damage with nine strikeouts.
“Today, Oakdale came into our park and just played better than we did,” Weston Ranch coach David Hager said. “They’re tough, and their coach does a great job in making sure that they’re ready to battle on each every pitch of the game. We were not prepared to play the full 21 outs and it’s something we need to be able to get better at.”
Ripon Christian 10,
WATERFORD — Travis Vander Molen struck out 11 in a four-hit shutout for Ripon Christian (6-1, 13-5).
He got plenty of run support early on, as the Knights busted out with a six-run rally in the second inning. Connor McGovern had two hits and three RBIs in the rout.