The battle for the top spot in the Central California Athletic League was on the line in Friday’s third and final game between Turlock and Pitman High in a series that kicked off on Monday.
Following Wednesday’s win by Pitman, the series was even, until Friday’s game was decided by one run as the Bulldogs came out the winners in a very tight 1-0 contest to keep the top spot in league with just half a dozen games remaining in league.
“Heck of a ball game, you have crosstown rivals, you’ve got ultimately first place on the line and both teams came to play,” said Pitman head coach Andy Walker. “A 1-0 game, can’t ask for anything more than that. At the end of the day they did a little more than we did, which is what it boils down to.”
“It was a 1-0 game between two great teams and it will always usually be like that when we play. It has been somewhat like that since they opened and we play them. But going in we had to play better, worked on short game stuff on Thursday,” said Turlock head coach Sean Gilbert.
A lot of praise was also given to Turlock’s starting pitcher from Friday, Casey Carr.
Carr pitched 6 and 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, before Tyler Soderstrom closed out the game with 2/3 innings.
“He pitched great and kept them off balance and competed, did a good job with the change and curveball, he was dealing and keeping us in the game,” said Gilbert. “Tip your hat to them (Pitman), but we managed to put some pressure there and we scraped it out.”
Carr surrendered just four hits, walked one and struck out five.
Offensively, Turlock was held to just five hits after Pride starter Nick Tullio nearly matched Carr pitch-by-pitch.
“I think our preparation and mentality has been good all week. Have to hand credit to their pitcher (Carr), he did a good job attacking the strike zone and did a great job. Carr threw a heckuva game,” said Walker.
It wasn’t until the fourth inning that Turlock tacked on the one and only run scored after an error allowed a base runner on, who then advanced to third.
From there it was Turlock sophomore standout Dom Rodriguez who found one of just three clean hits against Tullio, drilling a pitch to deep left center on the third pitch, scoring Cole Carrigg, who got on by error, and making it 1-0.
Following the run scored, Tullio didn’t allow another run to cross home plate after he pitched a complete game, giving up just five hits on 26 at-bats.
“Nick was masterful. If you look at that lineup, I mean one through nine, they are essentially like three-hitters,” said Walker. “So that is the approach for every at-bat because they all swing the bats so well and to limit those guys to one run is phenomenal. I don’t know if they have been held to one all year, and he couldn’t do any better. We just have to make it happen for him and help with run support.”
It was the first time since their first game of the season that Turlock was held to just a single run. So far, Turlock has outscored its opponents, 114-48.
The game remained stagnant until the bottom of the seventh inning when Pitman looked to rally.
Following a contentious call that forced an out at home plate, Pitman saw two on and one out.
Carr was eventually subbed out for Soderstrom, who retired the final two batters faced, closing it out with a strikeout.
Turlock improves to 13-5 and 8-1 in league play, having lost just once—to Pitman.
Pitman is currently holding an overall record of 7-9 and 6-3 in the CCAL.
“Proud of our guys; proud of the way they fought. We have a young team. Against that team to hold them to one run, we did a lot of good things, just unfortunately it wasn’t good enough,” said Walker. “This one is going to hurt, but we have to use it as motivation and hopefully it lights some fire under us going into Monday’s game so we can play well. That is the good thing with baseball, you get to bounce back and play right away. I think if we continue to bring the same passion and fight, I like our odds moving forward, just have to keep playing ball moving ahead.”
Turlock’s next game will be the first of a three-game series against Gregori at home at 3:45 p.m. Monday.
Pitman kicks off a three-game series with Enochs at home at 3:45 p.m. Monday.