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Manteca holds off resilient Titans
Cory Van Warmerdam was solid for Manteca, going 4 2/3 and earning the victory over the visiting Titans Thursday. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Over the past three seasons Manteca High’s baseball team has dominated without cease, outscoring the Titans 38-4. Things have changed in the Titans’ program, and Thursday the Buffaloes had their hands full in a 8-5 victory at Manteca High.

Starting pitcher Cory Van warmerdam surrendered a run in the first, but Manteca responded with a four-spot in its half of the inning. Chavez answered with another in the second, but Vanwarmerdam would cruise the next three innings holding the Chavez lineup quiet.

After getting one out in the fifth, Van Warmerdam hit a batter, then walked a batter before giving up a base hit and handing over the game to Danny Gouveia, who was just short of perfect in closing out the Titans.

“He has come in previously three times and each time he has been able to do that,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “He gives one or two innings; he’s really just a straight thrower.

“We have to work on him with some mechanics, but other than that, that is what we expect from him.”

Gouveia only gave up two hits in his two-plus innings of work, stifling the Titans’ bats when he stepped on the mound with two runners on in the fifth. Gouveia also drove in a pair of runs in the win and came around to score once.

Manteca is gripping with a rash of injuries, coping without the services of power-hitting third baseman Daniel Miramonte. The Buffaloes have been forced to tap into the depth of the team, as well as raise expectatioins for the regulars in the line-up, and most of the players who’ve been called on have answered the challenge.

“I am really proud of those guys who don’t normally get the playing time,” Ballardo said. “They’re coming in and doing a great job.  I have no complaints about those guys.

“They are giving me maximum effort and that is all I ask.”

Kevin Peck went 2-for-4 with a first inning double and scored two runs, while Matt Burrows was hit by a pitch and banged out a hit. Van Warmerdam reached base three of his four trips, going 0-for-1 with three walks. Van Warmerdam also scored twice.

Chavez has definitely taken strides in the right direction, yet early errors and unfortunate base running mistakes revealed how far the program will still need to go.

“I felt like we made some mental mistakes early,” Chavez head coach Jimmy Lee said. “But we seemed to fight though them. We swung it pretty good and we were persistent.

“They have a real good team over there, but I was proud of my guys; they didn’t give up that’s for sure.”

The Buffaloes (4-3) will be back on the diamond Wednesday when they travel to Stockton to play Stagg High.