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Buffs snap losing streak to Sierra in 10th inning
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Two days after ending a lengthy losing streak to one of the Valley Oak League’s perennial contenders, Manteca halted another on Friday when it edged past pitching ace Lindsey Walljasper and visiting rival Sierra 1-0 in 10 innings.
Sierra Martinez looped a two-out shot up the middle of the infield, allowing Kaylee MacDannald to score from second base and put an end to Sierra’s mastery of these upstart Buffaloes (4-1 VOL, 12-4 overall), who suddenly have the look of a legitimate challenger for the league crown after languishing in the middle of the pack — and sometimes closer to the rear — for the past two-plus decades.
The Timberwolves (3-1, 4-6) had won their 13 previous meetings with Manteca, a streak that goes back to the 2010 season. Manteca stunned Oakdale 5-2 on the road Wednesday, stopping a head-to-head skid spanning 16 games and nine years.
“This season has been very important to our seniors, and it was good to get another one off their back,” Manteca coach Josh Farris said.
Martinez, one of just three seniors on the club, came through with the game-winning hit, but it would not have been possible if not for the hustle of MacDannald.
The bottom of the 10th inning did not start out favorably for the Buffaloes, who, with the international tiebreaker now in play, had their runner at second get picked off by catcher Samantha Lorge on the first pitch.
MacDannald gave Manteca hope after reaching on a throwing error with two outs and stealing second on the next pitch. Haighley Kissee was then hit by a pitch to set up Martinez, who had already tagged a double in the third inning and accounted for two of Manteca’s four total hits.
MacDannald did not hesitate as the ball came off of Martinez’s bat. Sierra’s Lisette Mejias managed to come up with it behind the second-base bag, and she flipped it to shortstop Mia Guevara at second hoping to get the force out on Kissee. By that point, MacDannald was well on her way home.
“I was like, ‘I gotta go,’” MacDannald said. “I knew that was going to be the game right there.”
She wasn’t even aware the ball stayed on the infield dirt. With the center fielder playing deep, MacDannald figured Martinez’s hit would land in the shallow outfield.
Either way, Farris lauded the heady freshman for her intuition and commitment to getting the job done on the base paths.
“It’s something we preach; don’t just watch, make sure you execute a play all the way to its completion and that was obviously the difference today,” Farris said.
It was a tough way for Sierra to lose after getting a sterling extra-inning performance out of Walljasper, who racked up 17 strikeouts, walked none and hit four in her four-hit gem. She repeatedly bailed her team out, and the defense’s fourth error of the game proved to be costly.
“She threw her heart out, and to lose like that is hard to swallow,” Sierra coach Victor DeAnda said. “Don’t take anything away from Manteca, they did a great job and did what they had to do. It was a good game.”
Kissee did her part for Manteca to make this a pitcher’s duel. The senior surrendered five hits, issued two walks (one intentional) and hit one while striking out three.
Sierra’s best chance to score was in the top of the seventh. Nicole Gardner singled to lead off the frame, and with two outs Savana Guzman was hit by a pitch and Kiara Baleva (2 for 3, double) walked to load the bases. Kissee induced a groundball by No. 1 hitter Mia Guevara to get out of trouble.
The Timberwolves also had two runners in scoring position in the ninth and 10th but again came up empty-handed. They stranded 11 runners in all.
“Those are the types of situations that I crave and enjoy,” Kissee said. “They just fire up the adrenaline and I wanted to do the best that I could for my team. I knew my teammates were behind me, so I’m comfortable in those pressure situations.”
Manteca 14, Sierra 4
Leadoff hitter Kylee Eberle went 2 for 2 with a walk and plated three runs to highlight Manteca’s dominant win. The Buffaloes improved to 3-2 in league.
RaeLene Finley added a two-RBI single and two runs. Makenna Condit walked twice and drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt. Eryn Scott, Tayler Perez, Daisi Morales and Mimi Perez scored for the Timberwolves.