HOLLISTER — Bad news first.
Manteca Babe Ruth’s 14-year-old all-star team imploded defensively in the fifth inning, leading to a 10-5 loss to San Benito in the California District 1 Tournament’s championship round Thursday.
The good news?
The season is not yet over for the local club, which qualifies for the Northern California State Tournament in Dinuba where it could have its revenge against the traditionally-tough San Benito. San Benito won the state title a year ago at the 13-year-old level.
Manteca proved to be a worthy opponent last Saturday in the opener, where it dropped a 3-2 decision to San Benito in the opening round.
Manteca has since climbed its way out of the consolation bracket and was again a thorn on the side of San Benito on Thursday, taking a 3-2 lead heading into the fifth inning.
A three-error fifth doomed Manteca, however, as San Benito capitalized to score seven runs. Starting pitcher Zac Carrillo pitched plenty well enough to keep Manteca in it but lasted just 4 2/3 innings no thanks to the extra outs. He struck out three and scattered eight hits.
Ronnie Limas was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run to lead Manteca, which totaled seven base hits. Limas gave Manteca 3-1 lead in the third by driving in Josh Bonds (hit by pitch) and Bret Riley (walked) with a single up the middle.
Pinch-hitter Zak Lewallen belted a two-RBI knock late in the contest for Manteca’s final runs.
The Northern California tournament starts July 24. Should Manteca and San Benito win their first-round matchups, they would meet a third time in the quarterfinals.
— Jonamar Jacinto