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Bulldogs rally against Buhach, clinch co-CCC title
Turlock Baseball 2
The Turlock High varsity baseball team celebrates after defeating Buhach Colony on Friday and clinching at least the co-CCC title with the victory. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

Friday’s Central California Conference battle between Turlock and Buhach Colony High started off sluggish but the intensity picked up as the game carried into the final two innings.

From that point on, Turlock was able to mount a dramatic comeback, scoring three runs in the sixth to tie it at 5-5 heading into the seventh.

Once the Bulldogs put BC away in the top of the seventh, the final push was set as Tyler Soderstrom led off the bottom of the seventh with a hit and moved to second after Justin Hines squeezed him over with a bunt.

Sophomore Casey Carr then slapped the ball which bounced off the ground and after a throwing error to first base, Tyler was able to round out third and slide right into home where his teammates flocked around him to celebrate earning at least the co-CCC title after a 6-5 win.

“They played really well early,” said Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte of BC. “It was a good lesson because you are not always going to have your best stuff, so don’t quit. We also are now at least the co-league champs.”

Turlock must defeat Pitman at least once in their two-game series starting on Monday if they wish to be the outright champions in league.

Pitman, however, needs to win both games against Turlock next week to be named the co-champions of the CCC.

“We want to go out and play our best game of the year,” said de la Motte about playing Pitman. “We are going to have our best guys ready to go and we just have to be as scrappy as we can be since we are not going to overpower somebody, so we have to do that.”

Turlock had a rough game on Friday, committing three errors while allowing an unearned run.

Starting pitcher Bryce Lockermiller went 4 and 2/3 innings for the Bulldogs and Alex Garcia came in to relieve and tossed 2 and 1/3 innings.

Turlock scored first in the second to go up 1-0, then BC added two in the next half inning to go up 2-1.

In the bottom of the third Turlock suffered a major blow to the entire team when University of Arizona-bound Tate Soderstrom was injured after rounding first base on what would have been an extra base hit.

Soderstrom immediately fell to ground, yelling in pain as the athletic trainer and coaches checked on him.

He was taken off the field and returned to the dugout in the fifth inning, however, his timetable to return at all for the remainder of the season is in doubt.

“Looked like he really hurt himself and pulled the hamstring. Doesn’t look like he will be back, those are tough injuries to come back from, not like an ankle sprain,” said de la Motte of Tate. “It limits our options because it takes our best hitter out of the lineup and one of our senior captains; we just have to get somebody else to step in.”

Once the injury happened, Turlock looked a bit out of sync and committed an error following his absence but they continued to grind it out.

BC extended their lead to 4-2 heading into the sixth and went up 5-2 by the start of the bottom of the sixth when Turlock went on a scoring rally.

Chris Steeley, who went 2-for-4, drilled a crucial RBI single that evened the game at 5-5 with two outs after driving in Mason King.

Tied at 5-5, Turlock finally found new life and Tate’s brother, Tyler, closed it out for him by scoring the game-winning run to end the game and clinch the co-CCC title.

“It’s good, been a long year. We lost Tate today and tough injury for him and lost Damon (Treadwell) before the season started and Norquist has been hurt, we have had our share,” said de la Motte. “Just need to fill the holes and keep playing and see what happens next week. It’s not over.”

Turlock has won eight of its last nine games, including a 14-game win streak in the CCC dating back to last season. The Bulldogs last league loss was to Pitman on April 28, 2016.

Kayleb Becerra was 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored a run. Case Pacheco went 2-for-4 with one run and a double. Tyler Soderstrum was 3-for-4 for the game.

Pitman will host Turlock in the first of a two-game series at 4 p.m. Monday.