DINUBA – The pitching was near perfect, the fielding was flawless and the clutch hitting showed up right on time for Manteca Friday afternoon in Dinuba, the site of the 2009 Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Star Northern California State Tournament.
Manteca starter Kevin Peck allowed just four hits over six innings of work and struck out six as Manteca shutout Madera, 4-0.
Leadoff hitter Anthony Louie (2B, 2 R), meanwhile, turned in a perfect 3-for-3 clip at the dish, which ignited Manteca’s recently dormant offense and paved the way to three separate run-producing frames.
“Louie sets the table for us,” Manteca assistant coach Darren Swift said. “He’s a free-swinging guy, kind of an odd guy to have at leadoff, but he gets the job done.
“He does a great job of working the pitcher for five or six, so that the guys get a chance to see him, and he’s so fast that once he gets on, he’s a threat.”
Louie led off the top of the first with a single and was hit home on Ronnie Limas’ RBI double to the wall in left for an early 1-0 lead.
With two outs in the third, Manteca added two more when Louie doubled and Limas reached on a walk.
Brett Riley plated Louie with a knock, and Brock Swift (2 for 3) followed with an RBI single of his own.
“That two-out rally in the third, we didn’t get those (at the district tournament in Hollister),” Swift said. “That was nice to see after two quick outs.”
Bryson Stonum was inserted as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and provided a little insurance by laying down a perfect squeeze up the third base line.
The bunt plated Swift and added the finishing touches on a well-executed day by the boys in baby blue.
“Kevin was probably as good as I’ve ever seen him,” Swift said of his starter. “He was in command from the beginning. He hit his spots. He pitched ahead in the count and he earned the umpire’s respect as the game went on.”
Zac Carrillo worked the seventh, allowing a harmless poke and fanning a pair.
In an unexpected tournament twist, District 1 champion San Benito fell in the first round, 5-4, to Santa Maria.
Manteca will line up against Santa Maria tonight at 5 p.m.
— Brandon Petersen