Getting swept by East Union this week may have caused Valley Oak League champion Manteca (19-7) to slide in the seedings for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs, but it also gives the Buffaloes a shot at redemption.
Postseason brackets were released by the section on Thursday, and fourth-seeded Manteca has been pitted against No. 5 River Valley (18-7-1). The Falcons squeaked out a 3-2 victory over Manteca in an out-bracket game last year and, as the 10th seed, mounted a run to the section finals, where they lost to cross-town rival Yuba City, 6-3.
Thanks to its sweep of the Buffaloes earlier this week, East Union (12-11), the fourth-place team out of the VOL, qualified for the playoffs and is seeded 10th. They’ll head to No. 7 Rio Americano (16-11) of Sacramento on Monday for one of three out-bracket tilts. All three out-bracket games feature VOL teams, with No. 8 Oakdale and No. 6 Central Catholic each hosting games.
Ripon and Ripon Christian are the No. 2 seeds for the Division V and VI brackets, respectively.
“In reality, if we win our final game against East Union we are probably the 3 seed, so I’m not going to complain when we should have taken care of business on the last day of league play,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “To be honest, in order to be section champs you have to beat a lot of good people anyway regardless of where you’re seeded.”
Vista del Lago (22-3-1), Yuba City (20-7) and Christian Brothers (21-5-1) are the top three teams in the bracket. Manteca beat Vista del Lago 7-6 in come-from-behind fashion for the 2014 Division IV title.
The Buffaloes will square off with River Valley next Thursday, 4 p.m. at McAuliffe Memorial Ballparks in Sacramento.
“The losses due to graduation are pretty similar for both of our teams,” MacDannald said. “They return a solid majority of their guys and so do we. It’s a good opportunity for us to get some retribution on a neutral site. They’re very talented. I thought we played them really, really well, and we took the eventual section runner-up to 10 innings.”
Ripon (22-3) and Ripon Christian (20-5) don’t have first-round opponents set.
The Trans-Valley League champion Indians plays the winner of No. 7 Summerville (13-7) and No. 10 Marysville (14-12-1) next Thursday at Billy Hebert Field in Stockton. Three-time defending Division V champion Capital Christian (22-2) is the top seed.
Bradshaw Christian (17-9) is No. 1 in Division VI and has claimed the last three section titles. On the opposite end of the bracket, Ripon Christian faces No. 7 Forest Lake Christian (14-6) or No. 10 Golden Sierra (11-12) next Wednesday at Stagg High in Stockton.