The first five Sierra batters reached base Tuesday and three of them scored with the Timberwolves having another three-run inning in the sixth on the way to a 9-3 Valley Oak League baseball win over host Manteca.
“We were able to capitalize on that first inning and turn it into runs,” Timberwolves coach Travis Thomson said. “We scored more runs in the first inning than we did all last week. When a team makes a mistake and you are able to capitalize on it, that’s a dagger to their heart and it gives you momentum. I was proud that we took advantage of that early.
“We have three good starting pitchers so with three games a week you have to make some choices, and we thought Santi (Duarte) gave us the best chance to win today. He is around the zone a lot and doesn’t walk a lot of hitters. He is able to get a lot of front-foot contact which can turn into singles, but we are not giving up big hits, and they have some big hitters. Santi did a great job of missing barrels today.”
Duarte tallied five strikeouts with one walk and yielded just three hits through five innings before giving up five hits in a three-run Buffaloes sixth.
Duarte carried his weight at the plate as well, going 2 for 3 with an RBI, a double and a run.
“I felt pretty good on the mound,” Duarte said. “The defense did great behind me. The made the plays when they were needed.
“I felt comfortable at the plate. I knew my approach and worked on it all week.”
Mitchell Van Zwaluwenburg (2 for 3, double, RBI, two runs) had an RBI double for Sierra (3-4 VOL, 8-13) in its three-run sixth.
“I had a rough week at the plate last week,” Van Zwaluwenburg said. “So I wanted to prove myself this week.
“I sat fast ball most of the game and had a middle-away approach. I ended up pulling one down the line.”
Brendan Rapisura knocked in a run in the first and sixth innings for the Timberwolves, going 3 for 4 with two RBI and a run.
“Last week I struggled with curve balls, so I have been working on them this week,” Rapisura said. “I had to stay cool, calm and collected in the box and sat fast ball so when the curve ball came I was ready for it.”
Sierra’s Zac Cook added an RBI triple.
Zach Todd (3 for 4, triple, RBI, two runs) laced an RBI triple for the Buffaloes in their three-run sixth. Manteca (4-3, 10-9) posted five hits in the inning but left the bases loaded.
Alex Murietta went 2 for 3 for Manteca.
“For whatever reason, we were not ready to play today,” Buffaloes coach Mark Ruiz said. “And I don’t know why.
“We just had no energy.”
The two teams conclude their VOL set Thursday at 4 p.m. at Sierra.