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Morrow, Camarena spark Sierra in win over Manteca
Manteca-Sierra baseball
Sierra’s Angel Valdez (1) steals second as Manteca shortstop Cameron Jimenez awaits the throw. - photo by Wayne Thallander

 Leadoff batter Troy Morrow came up big for Sierra, and relief pitcher Nikko Camerena did as well at the plate and off the mound to help lead the host Timberwolves to a 4-3 Valley Oak League baseball win over Manteca at Jack Thomson Stadium.

“I am proud of the effort from our guys,” Sierra coach Travis Thomson said. “It’s tough to lose the first game of the week and come back with the energy like we did, but our boys did it. We were kind of led today by Nikko Camerena. He closed out on the mound for us. He got the team motivated even before the game and kept the team working hard. I think as a group, we followed Nikko’s lead and competed. From the mound, he made a heck of a play at first, and you could see his desire to win the game. He’s not looking for someone else to make the big play, he wants to make it himself.

“Travis Boyd and Troy Morrow each had a two-out hit, and they were difference makers. Really

Manteca-Sierra baseball
Sierra’s Troy Morrow raps an RBI single in the fifth inning.
proud of those two young men. They have been working hard.”

Camerena (2 for 3, run) came on to pitch with one out in the fifth and retired the first four batters he faced and pitched out of a first-second jam in the sixth. With one out in the seventh, first baseman Collins Schluer fielded a grounder deep in the hole and got it to Camerena covering first just in the nick of time.

“I just focus on what we do in practice,” Camerena said. “Plays like that one at first are what gives the team energy and gets us riled up.”

Two runs came in off the bat of Morrow. Camerena scored the first Timberwolves run when Morrow reached on a two-out error in the third to draw Sierra (5-6 VOL, 12-9 overall) within 2-1. After Boyd singled in Angel Valdez in the fourth to tie the game at 2-2, Morrow singled in Druw Navarro fifth to put Sierra ahead, 3-2.

“I was using a two-strike approach,” Morrow said. “I know with my speed, I can just put the ball in play and something potentially could happen.

“I relied on my speed out there.”

Boyd (RBI, run) reached on a fielder’s choice in the sixth, got to third on Camerena’s single and scooted home on a wild pitch for an insurance run to make the score 4-2.

Following Navarro’s fielding gem in the seventh inning with two outs, Cameron Jimenez reached on an error for Manteca. Jimenez took second on Preston Smith’s single and came around to score on a base hit by Jace Quitasol for the final score of 5-4.

Chris Chavez (2 for 2, run) got the Buffaloes (7-4, 17-4-1) on the board after he singled in the first inning and scored on a single by Smith (2 for 4, RBI). Chavez singled again in the second and the after the Timberwolves booted the ball around on the play Noah Navarro scored to give Manteca a 2-0 lead.

Buffaloes coach Mark Ruiz was frustrated with his team’s defense.

“We just had too many self-inflicted errors,” Ruiz said. “We didn’t bang the ball around like we usually do. We have to fix our approach.”

With the series even, the two teams meet again on Friday at Manteca High at 4 p.m.