Manteca High’s baseball team made it look easy on Monday.
Danny Gouveia bombed a three-run homer, Matt Mueller was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle and Kevin Peck threw a complete-game two-hitter as the Buffaloes cruised past River City of West Sacramento 5-0 in the out-bracket game of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs.
Manteca (17-8) was in top form in all facets of the game, turning a big game into a routine victory.
“Throw strikes, play defense and get clutch hits, basically. That was the game,” Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “Overall, we played great. They came out and were focused.”
Manteca (17-8) squares off with contending Central Catholic of Modesto in the first round Thursday at Lodi’s Tony Zupo Field. River City (16-10-1), the third-place team out of the Sierra Valley Conference, had won six of seven going into Monday’s contest.
Peck, who struck out 10 and faced just two batters over the minimum, got all the run support he needed in the bottom of the first, as Gouveia drove the first pitch he saw to deep left-center field for Manteca’s first jack.
“I just wanted to jump on it,” Gouveia said. “I knew I had to get them in. The guys were saying ‘first-pitch fastball’ and that’s what he threw me.
“He was throwing nothing but curveballs and off-speed after that.”
Gouveia’s momentum-changing at-bat was a pitch away from never happening.
River City pitcher Javi Martinez was in a groove at the start, striking out two straight before working an 0-2 count against Manteca No. 3 hitter Daniel Miramontes.
Miramontes let four straight balls whiz by him for a walk, then Matt Burrows reached base on balls to set the stage for Gouveia.
“Whenever you can prolong an inning and get another at-bat it’s huge, because you never know what can happen next,” Ballardo said. “We got another walk and just like that the home run came. Daniel did a good job of starting that off for us.”
Martinez was solid the rest of the way and ended up fanning nine, but five of the seven hits he gave up went for extra bases.
Mueller swatted a solo homer in the fourth and an RBI double in the sixth to go 3 for 3. Anthony Hernandez was 2 for 3 with a run and two doubles, and Gabe Rellamas legged out a two-base hit in the second.
All of that was extra credit, because Peck was in full command throughout. River City’s Joshua Arguijo, batting from the No. 9 spot, accounted for the Raiders’ only two base hits, which ruined Peck’s bid for a perfect game.
“Our game is to run, but we couldn’t get anyone on,” River City coach Jeff Cox said. “We bunt a lot, we steal a lot and he took that away from us today. They have a good little ballclub, especially that guy on the hill.”
Manteca will need another lights-out performance Thursday with Matt Burrows the likely starter against Central Catholic (23-4), a club that had won 10 straight section titles before losing to Escalon last year.
“We know what we’re up against,” Ballardo said. “Central is a great team, very well-rounded with great pitching.
“We’re going to go out there, lay it on the line and see what happens. I have all the confidence in the world in my guys.”