Turlock High did its job to finish second in the Central California Conference this week, sweeping Buhach Colony High in a double header that also earned its boys the eight seed in the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Baseball South Championships.
After going one for thee in a triple header with Pitman High last week, the Bulldogs (17-9 overall, 11-4 CCC) beat the Thunder 5-3 on Tuesday and 4-1 on Wednesday, setting up a home playoff game with Bear Creek High on Monday.
“They were both playoff type games, so it was really good for us. They were really tough games and our guys responded and played well,” Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte said. “We played from behind, got ahead and held the lead, so I was really happy about the way we played in both games. It gave us some momentum going into the playoffs.”
The closest of the two games with Buhach came on Tuesday as Turlock found itself playing from behind on two separate occasions. Having given up two runs in the top of the first inning, the Bulldogs knotted the score with runs in the bottom of the second and third innings. The Thunder immediately answered with a run in the top of the fourth for a one-run lead, but Turlock's offense rose to the occasion and scored one run in the bottom of the fifth and two runs in the bottom of the sixth for the comeback win. Tate Soderstrom and Brandon Booz were instrumental in Tuesday's win with 2RBIs and one RBI, respectively.
Turlock's offense picked up where it left off on Wednesday as it led the entire game with the help of 3RBIs from Alex Pallios and a RBI from Bubba Moreno.
“I'm happy, we're swinging the bats really well. We hit well the last three games and we got to keep it going on Monday,” de lat Motte said. “Booz has had a great year for us, Pallios is hot right now, Moreno is swinging the bat well and so is Soderstrom.”
“We've had a lot of close games this year and they either make you better or they make you worse. I think they made us a better team and a little more resilient when things don't go your way all the time,” he added.
Whereas Turlock has had its fair share of close games this year, ninth seeded Bear Creek's schedule is riddled with blowouts. The matchup of number twos — the Bruins finished second in the San Joaquin Athletic Association — is expected to be a tough one, though it will only be a preview of what the tournament has to offer as the winner will face the top seed in St. Mary's High on Thursday.
“It sounds like they can swing the bat pretty well and I know they have a left-handed pitcher that we're supposed to be seeing on Monday,” de la Motte said of the Bruins. “You got to beat the best to be the best. If we're able to win on Monday we'll be excited to play anybody.”