Weston Ranch junior Jordan Severin didn’t know he was going to get the starting nod until about 30 minutes before throwing the first pitch in Wednesday’s Valley Oak League tilt with visiting Kimball.
Sophomore Malik Vega-Tatum and Imran Khan were also called into action as coach David Hager scratched together a starting lineup.
“We were shorthanded today,” Hager said.
Backed by a solid defense, Severin pitched 5 1/3 innings in the emergency start, and the Cougars held off Kimball 3-2 to remain in range of their first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.
Tommy De Anda picked up the save but was also saved by the defense. Kimball, down 3-1, threatened in the top of the sixth with one out and the bases loaded before De Anda induced a line drive that resulted in a double play. Arturo McClendon scored the final run of the game for the Jaguars (3-6 VOL, 6-12 overall) on a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
“Severin competed and threw strikes,” Hager said. “He got fly balls and grounders and let the defense help him out. In my mind he deserves all the accolades today.”
He also lauded Vega-Tatum and Khan, who combined to hit 2 for 4 while playing “flawless defense.”
Severin also got the Cougars (4-5, 9-12) rolling on the offensive end. He doubled to start the fourth inning rally and plated the tying run on DeAnda’s RBI single. Steven Jasper tripled to make it 3-2.
Vega-Tatum ended up scoring the deciding run in the fifth when he singled and stole second to set up Josh Dilg’s run-scoring knock.
“Kimball is a good ball club but today was just our day,” Hager said. “We played hard, fought and did what we had to do to win.”
Manteca 12, Lathrop 1
In Lathrop, Manteca’s Jake Menasco overcame a rocky start and retired 16 of the next 17 batters after giving up a run on three hits in the opening frame. He finished with seven strikeouts before Devin Sullivan replaced him in the seventh and fanned the final two batters. They combined for a four-hitter.
Tyler Graves-Kelso (two runs) and Kyle Rachels (double, two RBIs) each belted a pair of hits to lead Manteca (5-4, 11-9). Dominick Pisano added an RBI triple and scored three times. The Buffaloes broke it open with six runs in the seventh inning.
Santiago Kantum was 2 for 3 and drove in Donatelli for Lathrop’s lone run.
Ripon Christian 6,
Gustine 4 (8)
In Gustine, freshman Willem Hoekstra was 2 for 3 and drove in four runs, including the final two with the deciding double in the eighth inning.
Daniel Hannick finished 2 for 4 and plated two runs. Hoekstra also pitched the first five innings and fired five strikeouts. Danny Vander Molen got the win in relief.
It was a much-needed win for the Knights (6-3 SL, 13-4 overall), who move a game ahead of Gustine (5-4, 10-8) in a loaded league race. Mariposa, Orestimba and Le Grand all started the day ahead of them. Ripon Christian hosts the series finale Friday starting at 3 p.m.