TRACY — Manteca’s baseball team pieced together one of its best all-around efforts of the season Friday, completing an important two-game sweep of Kimball with a 7-0 victory.
The Buffaloes (6-4, 15-8 overall) head into the final week of the regular season involved in a four-team dogfight for the final three available berths to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Sierra has already clinched the outright league championship and the first postseason bid.
Manteca faces Central Catholic next week in a battle for second place. Kimball (5-5, 15-9) and Oakdale trail them both by a game and face off against each other. The Buffaloes have been swept by Oakdale but hold a tiebreaking advantage over Kimball, thanks to Friday’s decisive win.
They plated all of their runs in the final three innings, scoring the first two in the fifth and the rest in the top of the fifth. Junior pitcher Rafael Diaz and the error-free defense handled the rest. Diaz went the distance, finishing with three strikeouts while giving seven hits and no walks.
“Raf had a great outing,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “Our defense was great behind him, and our approach at the plate keeps getting better. Really proud of our improvement. This was a complete game.”
The Buffs totaled six hits but also walked eight times. Dominic Day and Alex Gouveia each blasted a double and drove in a pair of runs. Dylan Gross contributed two RBIs of his own. Dylan Guice added a double and scored twice.
Manteca travels to Central Catholic on Monday.
Lathrop 6, Mtn. House 4
LATHROP — After getting 10-runned on Wednesday, Lathrop (3-8, 3-12) came back for a win that may keep the Mustangs (7-4, 15-9) from reaching the postseason.
Eddie Reynosa ended the Western Athletic Conference upset in style, making a diving grab for the final out. Matt Julien pitched 6 1/3 innings and fired five strikeouts for the win. Brandon Sanders needed just eight pitches to notch the save and struck out the first batter he faced.
Julien also had two RBIs on offense. Jesus Fierros, a first-time baseball player making his first start, contributed a hit and two RBIs. Daniel Navarro and Branden Sanders each laced two hits. Noah Martinez walked twice and scored twice.
Ripon Christian 8, Gustine 1
GUSTINE — The Knights (10-2, 15-6 overall) are closing in on a second straight Southern League title.
They broke it open with a five-run second inning and coasted from there as junior pitcher Nolan Lingley kept Gustine (5-7, 8-12) in check. He allowed five hits, two walks and racked up eight strikeouts in the complete-game effort.
Lingley was also productive at the plate, going 3 for 4 with six RBIs, two runs and two homers. Ripon Christian ends the regular season with a two-game set against Denair (5-6, 5-19).
Manteca 17, Kimball 7
TRACY — The Buffaloes amassed six runs in the third inning and cruised to a mercy-shortened victory.
Kaeden Luke went 3 for 3 with three RBIS and two runs, while Dylan DePrater went 2 for 4 with a double and three runs. Amrit Dehal scored twice and drove in a run.
East Union 14, Kimball 1
Hailey Reich knocked in four runs, legged out a triple and finished 2 for 2 at the plate as the Lancers rolled to a comfortable five-inning victory.
Morgan Geske went 3 for 3 while chipping in two RBIs to the barrage. Lala Ruiz finished 2 for 2 with an RBI. Brooke Grabowski and Kimberly Wlodarczyk split time in the pitcher’s circle, firing five and six strikeouts, respectively.