After dropping two straight and being shut out in the series opener in Sonora, the Manteca Buffaloes responded behind a strong pitching performance from sophomore Jake Corn in a 10-3 Valley Oak League win over the Wildcats Wednesday.
Corn tossed six innings and struck out eight batters, handing out a pair of free passes and hitting a batter. Corn was instrumental in Manteca’s offensive success as well, going 2 for 3 at the plate and driving in a game-high four RBI.
The outing was Corn’s second consecutive dominant performance, opening up his VOL season with a perfect game against Weston Ranch and this two-game-skid stopping gem over the Wildcats.
“I knew that they were a tough team, so I came in knowing that I’d have to hit my spots,” Corn said. “That is all I could really do. This was a game we had to have to stay in the race, but after yesterday’s loss; it was a little embarrassing.
“So I had to get into the mindset of pitching as soon as that thing ended.”
Corn was the perfect for remedy for a slumping Buffaloes team. Manteca put together an inspired effort behind the sophomore hurler, getting a pair of diving catches and error-free play from up and down the lineup.
Offensively, Manteca scored early and often, breaking loose for a five-run second and a three-run third. Sonora pushed one across in the second on a bloop single with a runner in scoring position and another in the third ignited by a hit batsman. Manteca would capitalize for the final time in the fifth back-to-back RBI doubles from Corn and battery mate Buddy Reeder.
Nick VanWarmerdam was 2 for 3 with a run and both Alex Martinez and Danny Gouveia both drove in two.
“We just put the ball in play and did a way better job of coming up clutch with runners on base,” Manteca’s Michael Matthews said. “Last game we struck out twice with the bases loaded and one out and this time we put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense.
“And you can’t say enough about Corn; he works just like it’s a game in practice and prepares himself for tough teams like Sonora.”
The Buffaloes (2-2, 7-5 overall) would have found themselves in an uphill battle throughout the remainder of the league season with a loss, but bettered their position by salvaging their second split.
“You have to win every game, no matter who it is,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “We have to approach every game like it’s our last because every game is important in the VOL. We had our backs against the wall a little bit and I’m proud of our team for coming out fighting.
“They played much better ball today and it was refreshing to see.”