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Twolves pull win out in bottom of 7th
Sierras Chase Sperbeck makes a diving catch Saturday for the Timberwolves against Central Catholic of Modesto. - photo by Photo by WAYNE THALLANDER

Sometimes you get a win with strategy and fundamentals. Sometimes you just get lucky. 

On Saturday the Sierra baseball team got lucky, very lucky.

The Timberwolves were down to their last three outs against visiting Central Catholic of Modesto trailing by two runs going into the bottom of the seventh. Chase Sperbeck led off the frame for Sierra and was hit by a pitch with Jesse Ortiz-Martinez following up with a walk. Jacob Peterson laid down a sacrifice bunt but the throw to first base sailed high, scoring Sperbeck and Ortiz-Martinez and landing Peterson on third.

Julian Cantu took the game’s next pitch and lined it between shortstop and second to plate Peterson for the 3-2 walk-off Valley Oak League win. 

“We had poor situational hitting and our at-bats weren’t really that good,” Sierra coach Jack Thomson said of his team’s four-hit attack. “And then Jacob gets down a good bunt. Even if they threw him out at first we would have had runners at second and third. 

“Cantu had a great approach. He got a first-pitch fastball and he didn’t take it, he was ready to hit.”

Cantu reached earlier in the game on a fielder’s choice. 

“I just wanted to put the ball in play,” Cantu said. “That was it. 

“It was an inside fastball and once I saw it go up the middle I was confident we were going to move the runner over.”

Peterson knew his assignment even before the frame started.

“Coach told me before the inning started that if they both got on I was going to bunt,” Peterson said. “If it was inside I was going down the third-base line and outside down the first-base line.

“I went with the pitch down the first base line and it ended up being a pretty good bunt.”

Jared Bagley (2 for 3) came in to pitch for the Timberwolves (3-2 VOL, 8-7 overall) in the fifth inning with the bases loaded, two out and one across. Bagley induced a groundout to end the fifth and then pitched two more innings of shutout relief, retiring the Raiders (3-2, 9-7) in order in the seventh. 

“There’s always a lot of pressure to get those outs but you have to get the job done,” Bagley said. “I always trust the defense is going to make the plays behind me.”

Thomson sees the league as more balanced than it has been in recent years.  

“I don’t know if the league is as strong as it has been,” Thomson said. “But it is as balanced as I have ever remembered it. After three games everyone had a loss. We have gone three weeks now and there is only one team with one loss, and everyone else has at least two. It could be a four- or five-loss season that gets it done.

“We needed this because we lost a tough one 1-0 to Kimball on Thursday.”