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Bulldogs avoid sweep, top Pride 9-7 in series finale
Turlock baseball
Turlock's Tate Soderstrom was 2 for 4 in Friday's game and finished with the save after getting the final out with bases loaded in the seventh. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Turlock baseball avoided a three-game sweep on Friday, beating Pitman 9-7 in a dramatic ending at Pitman High.

Junior Tate Soderstrom was big for the Bulldogs from the mound and at the plate after the junior went 2 for 4 and capped off the win with a save performance, getting the final out after going in to relieve starter Blaine Weber with bases loaded.

“We wanted to get the win in order to still be in contention for the league title,” said Soderstrom. “Now we don't have to sweep Buhach, we now just need 2 of 3 to get that CCC title, but we never want to get swept by Pitman either, so it's nice to get the win.”

“I think everybody got what they paid for in this game,” said Pitman head coach John Acha.

Turlock finally found its groove after struggling to hit the ball in the first two games of the series.

Head coach Mark de la Motte decided to shake things up the lineup and it paid off.

There were a total of 23 hits combined for the game. There were 21 total hits by both teams in the first two games.

The Bulldogs had 10 hits for the game and scored 9 runs, after scoring just 2 runs in two games, and amassing only 8 hits in the prior two meetings.

“We swung the bats well today. Guys changed approach and sometimes shaking up the lineup helps, and give our guys credit, they put the ball in play and these guys responded,” said de la Motte.

The Bulldogs went up in the opening inning with a three-run rally off Pride starter Nick Jones.

Turlock never trailed for the entirety of the game after that and tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth inning.

Pitman followed up with two runs in the bottom half of the fifth, but still trailed 5-3 at that point.

“It was good early even though they went up and we scratched back,” said Acha. “We put some pressure on them and then they went up big with a huge inning, we did too, just not quite enough, just fell, maybe, one hit short.”

Turlock had 8 of 9 batters from the lineup get at least a hit for the game. With Soderstrom and Trevor Santiago going 2 for 4.

Pitman finished with 13 hits for the game as Colton Evans was 3 for 4 with an RBI.

Turlock starter Blaine Weber went 6 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on 13 hits before getting subbed out, but made it difficult for the Pride hitters to make solid contact.

“Blaine is a gutty pitcher, moves the ball well and just ran out of gas at the end,” said de la Motte.

Turlock scored four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 9-3 lead that was highlighted by a pair of RBI doubles and RBI singles from Chris Steeley, Santiago, Chris Magana and Cody Justus.

Justus also made the play of the game with a diving inning ending double play to end Pitman's threat in the sixth inning after the Pride had two runners on with one out.

“Other than that first inning, I thought that we played well,” said Acha. “Turlock just hit a bit better and tip your cap to them, they showed up and didn't want to get swept and they showed us by making the big plays happen.”

Pitman came back and began a rally in the bottom of the seventh after AJ Encalade led off with a base hit.

Once Matt Carrigg got on, Dylan Roberts then leveled the first pitch he saw from Weber and drove it perfectly over the right field wall for a three-run shot to cut the lead to 9-6.

Only one more run was added by Pitman after Evans drilled a nice single, cutting the lead to two, but after that the Bulldogs switched pitchers and Soderstrom finished off the win.

“I wasn't nervous at all during that situation, after I hit the first guy I was up with the exact guy that I wanted since I knew I could beat him and I ended up getting the job done,” said Soderstrom about facing Encalade in the final at-bat of the game.

Dylan Roberts was 2 for 4 with 4 RBI and a homer for the Pride.

Jones started and went 4 1/3 allowed 4 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned and walked 4. Carrigg went 1 2/3 innings, allowed 4 earned runs on 5 hits, walked 2 and struck out 2.

Turlock improves to 10-2 and Pitman falls to 7-5 in the CCC.

Turlock will commence their three-game series with Buhach Colony for the eventual CCC title that begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“We were tied with Buhach going in, so we are tied going into the final series with BC, we want to play well going into the playoffs so next week is going to be critical for that,” de la Motte added.

Pitman's final three games are against Golden Valley beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“Don't take GV lightly at all, just because they are in the bottom of the league, they can beat us any day so we need to be intense and take good approaches with the three games left in league,” Acha added.