For the first time in the last six postseason appearances, Turlock varsity baseball was eliminated by another team not named St. Mary's of Stockton in the Division-I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Turlock's Landon Curtis started the game on Wednesday and matched Tracy's ace pitcher Cody Bolton, a University of Michigan commit, until getting subbed out in the middle of the sixth after 5 1/3 innings pitched.
Curtis allowed just a single earned run, but the nearly perfect Tracy Bulldogs, who looked flawless in nearly every facet of the game, ended the game with less errors than Turlock and managed to score runs on critical situations to knock out Turlock in a 5-2 decision.
“No excuses but we just didn't play as good as we could... you can blame whatever you want... the layoff, or we made some key mistakes, but it was definitely not a lack of effort,” said Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte. “Just proud of our guys' effort and their commitment.”
The seniors from Turlock were also scheduled to attend Disneyland as part of their senior trip, but all of the regular senior starters decided to stay and compete in the playoffs.
The end result was a downer but when the Bulldogs look back on the year, they’ll realize that they exceeded all of their preseason expectations. The 2016 Turlock Bulldogs are Central California Conference champions.
“We had the kind of year that I was not expecting... they overachieved and played their tail off,” said de la Motte. “It was disappointing to end like we did but sometimes when things don't go your way, you come back tomorrow and it’s a new day... just really proud of them.”
The loss also snaps a four game win streak that the 'Dogs had heading into the postseason.
In their last five appearances, prior to Wednesday's game, Turlock had never been eliminated in their first game during that streak.
“The year most of our seniors had, I wasn't expecting because a lot of them were role players but they stepped up as starters and all-stars in league on offense and defense and base running,” said de la Motte. “That says a lot about the kids.”
When Turlock was matched with Tracy on Wednesday, they believed they could come away with a win but starter Bolton wasn't going to allow it to happen. Backed by five runs on offense, Bolton was able to dominate the Bulldog hitters, allowing just three hits for the game over seven innings of work.
“Their pitcher threw well... we gave them one early but they gave us one and we gave them those late in the game and in the end we gave them more than they gave us,” said de la Motte. “He kept up his velocity and we didn't have an answer for them.”
Turlock scored one in the bottom of the first after Brandon Booz drilled an RBI single to drive Mitchell Pryschuk to make it 1-0.
Tracy knocked in a run in the second and third to go up 2-1 and it wasn't until the fifth inning when Jon Temple tied it for Turlock after getting caught in a pickle from second to third base and the only error by Tracy, allowed Temple to round third and score to make it 2-2 heading into the sixth.
Tracy scored three unanswered runs and Bolton was able to get three out of the last four hitters out to end the game.
Turlock ends the year with a 17-11 overall record.
“I thought we made adjustments but I guess it wasn't enough. He pitched well and we didn’t get the hit at all,” de la Motte added. “Our seniors all had a heck of a year and set the tempo for the other guys.”