Joel Olmos lit the fuse for Manteca with a leadoff triple, and the Buffaloes amassed 11 runs in the bottom of the third inning in their 13-1 pummeling of visiting Kimball on Thursday.
Manteca (8-4 Valley Oak League, 16-7 overall) sent 11 batters to the plate before its first out, a sacrifice fly to center field from Kyle Rachels. Olmos set it off with a deep drive that blasted past diving right fielder Jake Vigil, and the speedy senior easily reached third. Olmos had two hits and two runs in the inning. He finished 3 for 3 and scored three times.
Ferrin Manuleleua added a two-run single in the onslaught, and Rachels knocked in a run in each of his at-bats. Rachels credited Olmos for the leading the charge. Olmos also started the home half of the opening frame with a single up the middle, scoring on a throwing error to tie the game at 1-1.
“It sparks everything when the leadoff guy gets on, like Joel always does,” Rachels said. “It’s the best way you can start an inning.”
Manteca got production from every spot in the order. Freshman Ryan Ward belted singles in all three of his plate appearances, and Gino Campiotti went 2 for 3 with a double. Alex Gouveia drove in the club’s final run with a double in the fourth inning.
The Buffaloes totaled 13 hits in both games against Kimball (4-8, 12-10-1) this week.
“We started out the year somewhat anemic at the plate,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “It’s a testament to these guys; they’ve been grinding and trying to get better. Three of the last four games we’ve been really making some loud contact. That’s what you want, you want to be playing your best baseball down the stretch when it counts.”
Rachels was also the winning pitcher and part of a combined one-hitter. Jacob Juarez doubled to start the game and advanced to third after Matt McGowan reached on a sacrifice bunt. Campiotti, who started the game at first base for Manteca, tagged McGowan but dropped the ball moments later. McGowan was declared safe, giving the Jaguars runners on the corners with no outs.
Ryan Rivera later drove in Juarez with a fielder’s choice, beating the throw to first base to avoid an inning-ending double play.
“I just have to keep throwing strikes and let the defense play behind me,” Rachels said. “I can’t get out of control and try to do too much.”
Rachels hit two batters and didn’t have any strikeouts. Campiotti faced four hitters in the fifth.
Manteca ends the regular season next week with a pivotal two-game set with East Union. With Oakdale already clinching the Valley Oak League championship, the two rivals are vying for two spots in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Sierra remains in the hunt, trailing both by a game.
The Buffaloes are the defending SJS Division III champion.
“We’re going to have to play really good baseball to get this season past next week,” MacDannald said.
Manteca 5, Kimball 3
Christian Cruz went 2 for 3 with a double and drove in a pair of runs, while Rafael Diaz contributed two hits of his own and an RBI.
Dylan Gross struck out four in 6 2/3 innings, and Logan Quan got the final out for the save. Manteca improved to 9-3 in the VOL, 19-4 overall.
Manteca 5, East Union 4
The Buffaloes battled back from a 4-1 deficit on Tuesday, scoring four unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth innings to overtake East Union.
Joel Gallo knocked in Tyler Garlets for the go-ahead run. They both went 2 for 4, and River Weahunt finished 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI. Gallo was also the winning pitcher, throwing three scoreless innings.