Oakdale High’s Nick Ippolito carried a 6.36 ERA and was 0-3 going into a pivotal Valley Oak League contest at Manteca Tuesday.
Additionally, he had 11 strikeouts and 13 walks in 11 innings pitched — mostly in relief.
Numbers do lie, apparently.
The senior kept Manteca hitters guessing with his fastball, changeup and breaking balls, accumulating 13 strikeouts and walking one in a 4-1 win for the Mustangs.
“He’s been closing a lot for us and threw in some tournaments,” Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika said. “It was just a good chance to get him into the rotation and rest some other guys down the stretch.
“He came through.”
The loss was the first in Valley Oak League play for Manteca (8-1, 14-4 overall), which missed out on an opportunity to open up a three-game lead in the standings. It makes Thursday’s rematch at Oakdale (7-2, 14-8) that much bigger.
Ippolito scattered five hits in outdueling Manteca ace Jake Corn, who gave up four runs (two earned) and eight hits while striking out four and walking one. He was relieved by Jeremy Vaughn after the fifth.
“I know (Ippolito) hasn’t thrown too many innings this year, but it’s Oakdale — they’re going to have pitching,” Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “Whether it’s their No. 1, 2, 3 or No. 7 pitcher, we were expecting a good pitcher.
“I tip my cap off to him. He got ahead in the count, he had all of his pitches working and he pitched one heck of a game. We struck out 13 times — that’s 13 times we’re not putting the ball in play. That eliminates our opportunities.”
Manteca did have opportunities, though. Leadoff hitters came through with base hits in three out of the first four innings, the Buffaloes had two runners on with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Ippolito rung up two strikeouts to clinch the win, and he fanned seven of the final nine batters he faced.
Buddy Reeder was the one Buffalo who had Ippolito’s number. He went 3 for 3 and was a home run shy of the cycle. Ezequiel Diaz singled and plated Manteca’s lone run in the fourth. Corn drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
From the mound, Corn was done in by both bad luck and Oakdale’s clutch hitting. All of Oakdale’s runs were scored with two outs, and two errors led to two unearned runs. The Mustangs’ final two runs were scored on a soft chopper by Colt Parshall in the third. The ball bounced past Corn and first baseman Vaughn. Parshall was on his way to beating out the throw when one run scored, and the next came in after Corn overthrew it to first.
Oakdale, meanwhile, was sharp on defense, rolling a tone-setting 4-6-3 double play in the second second inning. Eriksen Dickens led the offense with a 3-for-4 effort that included a triple and a run. Nik Garza scored twice, going 2 for 4 with an RBI double.
“They beat us in every aspect of the game,” Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “We’re lucky (the score) wasn’t 10-1.”
Lathrop 11, W. Ranch 5
No. 9 hitter Andrew Gaynor smashed a back-breaking, bases-clearing triple to highlight Lathrop’s five-run fourth inning. That gave the Spartans (3-6 VOL, 8-11 overall) an 8-1 lead, but host Weston Ranch (9-0, 2-17) was able to get four runs back in the bottom half. Cody Simerly clubbed a two-RBI single, and Jesse Hurtado drove in two more with a two-out triple.
Lathrop’s Mikey Pereznegron pitched three shutout innings in relief for the save. He struck out four and scattered three hits. Brandon Corral came off the bench and went 2 for 3 with two runs. Marcus Vega Tatum was 2 for 3 with two steals and a run for the Cougars.
Ripon Ch. 7, Gustine 1
Freshman Travis Vander Molen struck out five and gave up a run on three hits in five innings while plating three runs in a 3-for-4 effort at the plate for the Knights (10-0 SL, 14-6-1 overall).
Dominic Nelson went 3 for 3 with a triple and four RBIs. Danny Vander Molen was 2 for 4.