In his final at-bat of the day, Turlock High's Jeremy McDonald didn't want to waste any time trying to touch all four bases at the Bulldogs' home baseball field on Friday afternoon. Once he smacked a shot toward right field, he wasn't satisfied with one base. So he kept going and going, sliding safely into third.
And on the next pitch, Merced High reliever Drake Burch threw a wild pitch, giving McDonald an opportunity to score. And that's what McDonald did, sliding safely across home plate. He yelled out of excitement, marking the game's final score, a 12-2 win for the Bulldogs in sixth innings.
“I was glad I could help us out,” McDonald said.
The game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule, which was fine with the Bulldogs.
Many of them had a prom to attend three hours later.
Yes, it was one of those business-first days for the Bulldogs, who topped Merced twice this week to clinch a share of the Central California Conference title, the school's first one since 2002. And Turlock pretty much defeated the Bears in the first inning.
Merced (6-4 CCC) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in its first plate appearance, earning scores against Vince Wheeland. That was uncharacteristic for an ace that has signed to play at Oklahoma State next season, but the Bulldogs (8-2 CCC) responded with hit after hit and run after run. In fact, Turlock managed seven runs in the bottom of the first, enough to spoil any thoughts Merced had about exacting revenge after losing 7-3 two days earlier.
“They never quit and they played really hard,” Turlock coach Mark de la Motte said. “I just hoped that we could answer with runs of our own. I was hoping to get one run, but we get seven. That made a statement: That's what championship teams do. They really answered.”
The answer was 12 unanswered runs, to be exact.
They kept on responding in the following innings, with one run in the second, three more in the third and that sneaky play by McDonald, who scored on a wild pitch after his triple. But plenty of Bulldogs finished with highlights.
Clean-up hitter Ryan Cumberland went 3-for-3 with one RBI, giving him 40 for the season. His coach joked, “He's been leading the world in RBIs.”
Kevin Kramer turned in another standout day, getting on base all four times and knocking a two-RBI double as the leadoff batter. McDonald and Ryan Flood scored two runs and Tommy Evans and David Herrera turned in multi-RBI performances, with Herrera finishing with two hits. Also, Ricky Fuentes used his speed to score two runs.
Oh, and Wheeland didn't do too bad on the mound either. He recovered from allowing two runs in the first and finished a complete game with 11 strikeouts and got out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth inning.
The Bulldogs will face Atwater High twice next week to conclude the season, now that they have secured the No. 1 seed in the CCC of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. That means they don't need to be in a hurry for anything, considering they'll be playing in the postseason for the first time in seven seasons.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.