LODI – Jake Corn had confidence in his fastball.
The Manteca High lefty used the heat to set up his other pitches in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over El Dorado at Zupo Field.
With that, the Buffaloes (17-7) also set aside a few frustrating years of trying to advance past the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.
“El Dorado beat us last year in 10 innings,” said Manteca coach Gene Ballardo, who hailed the Cougars as a solid team.
This time around, El Dorado (19-9) had trouble fielding the ball cleanly, committing four errors including three in the four-run third.
Dominick Pisano reached base when his infield popup was misplayed. Ezequiel Diaz followed with a single and Lucas Vaughn loaded up the bases by getting aboard on an infield error.
Buddy Reeder delivered home Pisano with his single to left. Michael Garibay came through with a two-run single and Alex Jorgensen plated Corn, who reached base on a fielder’s choice, with his RBI single.
Corn, meanwhile, kept the Cougars in check through most of the game. He went six innings, scattering four hits with 10 strikeouts while issuing one walk and a hit batsman.
“With my fastball working, I was able to use the change (effectively),” he said. “My curve was OK.”
Corn also had a 4-0 lead, adding two more in the fourth.
The El Dorado defense committed another infield error to set up the frame. Pisano kicked started the two-run rally by reaching base on the miscue following a double play. Diaz, who went 2 for 3, then blasted a double to score Pisano. Vaughn followed with an RBI double down the first-base line.
The Cougars got one of the runs back in the fifth. Zack Culp had a two-out double and came home on Nicholas Bonniksen’s base knock.
In the seventh, Ballardo turned matters over to his bullpen.
“I know Jake didn’t want to come out,” said the Buffaloes coach.
At that point, he just wanted to save Corn for later in the playoffs. “Jake was already up on his pitch count,” added Ballardo.
Vaughn pitched the final inning, striking out the side but, in between, had issued a pair of walks and plunked another to load up the bases.
Ballardo was thrilled to come away with the victory.
“We’ve extended our season for another day (with the win),” said Ballardo, who’s team will play again on Saturday against Western Athletic Conference champion Central Catholic.
Offensively, Manteca collected eight hits, including two by Diaz and one each by Garibay, Corn, Jorgenson, and Reeder.