The Sierra High Timberwolves won’t much time to enjoy their 7-6 win at Manteca on Wednesday.
Because of Good Friday, the two rivals will square off at 4 p.m. today at Sierra.
“We have to be ready to do battle again,” said Timberwolves coach Jack Thomson.
His team benefitted greatly from a seven-run third inning. Sierra (3-0 in the Valley Oak League, 9-3-1 overall) sent up 13 batters in that frame, taking advantage of four hits, four walks and an error.
Despite seven-run deficit, the Buffaloes (2-1 in VOL, 8-5 overall) rallied back with a run in the fourth inning, adding four in the fifth and one more in the sixth.
Manteca had the tying run in scoring position thanks to called third-strike passed ball and walk. But Sierra relief pitcher Ryan Vasquez shut the door from there, retiring the final two batters on a popup and groundout.
“We had the big inning – that’s what made the difference – but after that we let up and they managed to get the momentum,” Thomson said.
In that third, Jakob Gallagher reached base on an error and moved to second on a nicely executed sacrifice bunt by Anthony Arrendondo. After Bailey Mittman’s walk, Vasquez, who started the game at center, delivered on an RBI double to right.
Tanner Peterson followed that up with a two-run single, making it 3-0.
Jake Souza and Steven Rios had back-to-back walks to load the bases. A walk to Nick Oseguera delivered home Peterson.
Gallagher, who started things off, ripped a two-run single while Arrendondo’s RBI base hit finished off the scoring for Sierra.
“We played six innings of good baseball – unfortunately, we play seven innings (in high school),” said Buffaloes coach Neil MacDannald.
Prior to that, his starter Dominick Pisano retired the first six batters in order.
Manteca settled down as Pisano and Jake Menasco, who came in with two outs in the fifth, set down 13 of the final 14 Sierra batters in order.
Vasquez’s throw from center to freshman second baseman Kyle Rachels erased a Sierra runner trying to stretch a single to a double in the fourth.
Manteca scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth. Pisano reached base on dropped fly ball in the outfield and quickly scooted to second. After walk to Greg Jones and a base hit by Tyler Graves-Kelso, Sam Rohovit hit a ground ball to the right side that was misplayed, plating Pisano.
Leo Soto, Sierra’s starter, avoided further damage with help from an inning-ending double play. Prior to that, he retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. Soto yielded to Rudy Cervantes with two outs in the fifth
The Buffaloes opened the bottom of the fifth with consecutive singles by Jonathan Murillo, A.J. Kieffaber and Ronald Tijero. Murillo and Kieffaber scored on Pisano’s double.
In the sixth, Mitch Balmut was plucked by a pitch. Two batters later, Menasco singled and Pisano delivered home Balmut to make it one-run deficit for Manteca.
Vasquez closed out the game for Sierra, taking the mound with two outs in the sixth and escaping the seventh by stranding the potential tying run at second.
”Ryan is very competitive but he plays (center field) and was ready to come in earlier. But Rudy (Cervantes) did a good job in relief,” Thomson said.
MacDannald, meanwhile, also praised his reliever.
“Jake (Menasco) came in and did a solid job,” he said.
Menasco, in fact, retired all eight batters that he faced.
“That one inning was costly (for us),” MacDannald said. “Now, we have one day to get that bad taste out and be ready to face Sierra again.”