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Williams drives in 5, pitches shutout for Oakdale
Manteca pitchers gritty performance spoiled by defense
Manteca High’s Kevin Peck sprints past the second-base bag on Zach Gase’s base hit in the second inning while Oakdale shortstop Braydon Stephens calls for the relay throw. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
Brennon Williams could have been the hero the last time he and the Oakdale High baseball team visited Manteca, but he was robbed of the opportunity.

On Wednesday he didn’t give the Buffaloes a chance to do so again.

Not only did Oakdale’s ace pitcher shut out Manteca in a 6-0 win, he also drove in five of the runs and plated the other.

Williams cracked a two-run triple in the top of the fifth inning to break the scoreless tie and scored himself when Andy Morris’ pop fly was misplayed in right-center field.

Then in the seventh he clubbed a spirit-breaking, three-run homer to right. On the mound he struck out five and walked two in a four-hitter.

Manteca’s Kevin Peck showed tremendous fight in his 6 1/3-inning start but was betrayed by his defense, which committed four errors. Three of them led to four unearned runs.

Back on May 6 of 2010, the four-time Valley Oak League champion Mustangs lost 4-3 at Manteca. Williams nearly tied it with two outs in the seventh inning with a moon shot to center field, but Manteca’s Michael Timmins clinched it with a game-saving over-the-shoulder catch near the warning track.

“That’s been in the back of my head ever since,” Williams said. “I knew that this year I’d get to pitch here, so I wanted to do my best and compete to my best ability.”

He did, but so did Peck, who did his part in creating an intense pitcher’s duel.

While it wasn’t Peck’s cleanest effort stat-wise (121 pitches, four hits, four walks, six strikeouts), it was arguably his gutsiest. Peck also accounted for two of Manteca’s four hits on offense.

“He’s disappointed, of course, but he pitched great,” Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “He did his job, and as a team we need to back him up.

“His velocity wasn’t even as high as it usually is, but he was locating and throwing three pitches for strikes.”

The tone was set on the game’s first pitch.

Oakdale leadoff hitter Mark Ortiz grounded to second but reached on an error. Peck’s second pitch caromed high off the mitt of catcher Matt Burrows, allowing Ortiz to scoot his way to second standing up.

And on the fourth pitch, Matt Butler dribbled a bunt to Peck, who picked it up but had no one covering the first-base bag.

That set the Mustangs (9-2, 16-4 overall) up with runners on the corners with no out, and Peck walked Williams to load the bases with one out. Peck ended up striking out the side.

“Tip your hat to Peck, he just fought all game,” Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika said. “He got the job done in the first inning. My guys were on him and he clutched up.”

The magic wore off in the fifth inning. With two outs, Butler’s line drive to first base was dropped to spark the ice-breaking rally. Kody Simmons walked, and that was when Williams drilled his triple.

“I like being in that pressure situation,” Williams said. “I was confident in myself, and I just told myself that I was going to get the job done.”

The good news for Manteca (6-3, 12-7) is that it doesn’t have to wait long for the rematch. The Buffaloes head to Oakdale today.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Ballardo said. “If we can play again I wish we could do it right now. We’ll be ready to play and we’ll see what happens.”