By JOHN-JOEL GRIFFITHS
LATHROP – The Manteca minor division Diamondbacks were forced to win a three-game playoff series just to punch its ticket into this year’s District 67 Tournament of Champions.
On Sunday, Manteca won its fourth straight TOC matchup as it knocked off the Tracy American Angels to win the championship at Mossdale Landing Community Park, 6-3.
“We only lost three games this year,” said Manteca Diamondbacks head coach Jason Genilla, whose squad won its 21st game of the season for the district championship.
Despite Manteca falling behind 1-0 after the opening inning, the D-Backs bounced back to tie it up at one apiece in the second frame. Manteca then scored three more in the fourth and two in the fifth to pull away.
Isaac Searcy (four strikeouts, five walks, two hits) got the start for Manteca and pitched three solid innings from the bump. Garren Genilla (seven strikeouts) came in and closed out the last three innings and finished despite throwing two walks and allowing four hits.
“I think we did really good,” Searcy said. “We tried our hardest and we accomplished what we needed to.”
Grant Houle and Diego Arroyo both went 2 for 3 from the plate for the Diamondbacks (21-3).
Arroyo, one of the team’s power hitters, opened up the second frame with a hard-hit double to the warning track. Dominic Krippene recorded the RBI-single that scored Arroyo and tied the game at one apiece.
In the bottom of the fourth, Manteca went back to work.
Frederick Cruz led off the inning by drawing a walk and eventually gave his team a 2-1 advantage after crossing home after beating out a pickle.
“That was an accident,” coach Genilla said jokingly. “We never planned that.”
Cruz’s heads-up play on the pickle led to Krippene hitting another single to put runners on the corners, which forced a Tracy American pitching change.
Matthew Murray took the first pitch from the fresh pitcher and knocked in Cruz for a two-run cushion. Armit Dehal picked up an RBI via a folder’s choice that scored Krippene for the team’s third run of the fourth inning.
“Thank God we started hitting,” said head skipper Genilla.
In the fifth inning, Houle provided his squad with a 5-1 cushion after recording an RBI-single that scored William Rocha. Arroyo made it a 6-1 contest with a sac-RBI that scored Genilla, the team’s No. 3 hitter.
Tracy American made Manteca’s dugout tense up as it scored two more runs in the top of the last inning after Drew Frederick and Kyler Hickman crossed the dish.
Genilla tossed his seventh strikeout to end the ball game and spark the celebration.
The Angels did threaten the Diamondbacks lead by sending 17 batters to the plate in the last three innings.
To contact John-Joel Griffiths, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.