STOCKTON — Of course there were things the Turlock High baseball team could’ve done differently. Maybe the players could have been more patient at the plate or, perhaps, if they had an out that was issued against them go the other way.
But that’s baseball, the Bulldogs said, echoing a popular expression.
They didn’t complain after the digital scoreboard at the Klein Family Field at the University of Pacific read a 12-2 score in favor of St. Mary’s High in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South tournament on Friday afternoon. They just packed their stuff knowing they can redeem themselves next week.
Despite the humbling loss, the Bulldogs (21-7) get another life through the double-elimination rounds, as they will face the loser of the Beyer High-Lincoln High game that was played late Friday night. This time, Turlock will have a well-rested Vince Wheeland, the Oklahoma State-bound senior who pitched an outstanding outing in the team’s first postseason game in seven years a few days earlier.
Turlock is set to play at 4 p.m. on Monday at the same field where the Bulldogs allowed an early onslaught.
After shortstop Kevin Kramer pulled off a home run to left field on the second pitch of the game, the 23-6 Rams — who were one of the Section finalists last season — responded quickly. They rallied for four runs on three hits in the bottom of first inning, more than enough to reverse the momentum.
“Once they broke it open,” Turlock coach Mark de la Motte said, “we had some problems.”
The Rams issued more trouble in the following innings, adding two runs in the third and four runs in the fourth on four hits and one error. They produced a couple more scores in the sixth, just enough to end the game prematurely because of the 10-run mercy rule.
In all, they rounded up 12 hits against four Turlock pitchers.
St. Mary’s also dominated on the mound, thanks to senior Kurt Smith’s complete outing that saw him get out of a couple tight situations. But there was one Bulldog who managed to overcome Smith — and that was Kramer, who went 3-for-3 with his homer in the first.
“I think I’ve been in a little slump all year,” Kramer said. “I like playing against better competition. I think I got the pitches when I wanted it and I drove it. He had good velocity, but I just put the bat on the ball, and it was simple as that. But baseball isn’t all that easy.”
The Bulldogs supplied their second run at the top of the sixth, when James Heller had an RBI-single to center field to send in Ryan Cumberland. Turlock had other scoring chances, such as in the fifth when they stranded two runners on base.
The Bulldogs also committed two errors that led to scores.
But again, that’s baseball.
“Baseball is a game of inches,” Kramer said. “Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t. It’s a game of inches and if you don’t get the inches, they don’t go your way and you end up with a loss.”
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