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Offense explodes to give TC victory in playoff semifinal
TC baseball 1
Turlock Christian's Beau Blake was constantly on base in Monday's semifinal playoff game against Vacaville Christian (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Turlock Christian baseball continued its recent streak of dominance with a 13-5 victory over Vacaville Christian in Game 1 of the Division 7 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals on Monday night. The win gives the Eagles a chance to advance to the section finals when they take on VC in Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Wednesday.

Monday’s contest was a scoring fest from the start when TC freshman Jayden Espinoza led off the bottom half of the first inning with a single and was quickly driven in on a double by senior Julian Espinoza. The Eagles of Turlock Christian would grab another run in the second inning when freshman Beau Blake reached base on a single and was brought in to score on an RBI groundout by freshman Xavier Ruezga.

As the Eagles offense garnered some runs, starting pitcher Rob York cruised to three shutout innings. York would receive even more run support when the TC offense exploded for five runs in the home half of the third.

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Junior Rob York started on the mound for Turlock Christian and earned the win in the box score (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

The big inning started when Julian Espinoza was drilled by a pitch. York helped his cause on the mound by bringing him in on a double. After a single, fielder’s choice and multiple hit batsmen and walks, the Eagles found themselves with a 6-0 lead. Jayden Espinoza went on to cap the inning with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 7-0.

As the Eagles found themselves with a comfortable lead, Vacaville Christian immediately began chipping away at the deficit. After a walk and single surrendered by York, VC senior William Verdon put the Falcons on the board with an RBI single. An additional run would come on to score after a TC fielding error. VC would continue to inch closer to the lead in the top half of the fifth when Falcons junior Thomas Lane drove in two more runs with a triple, making it a 7-4 game and ending York’s start on the mound.

Turlock Christian head coach Bill York spoke about the effort from his starting pitcher.

“Rob didn't have his curveball dialed in tonight, but I liked how he competed, and he's been doing that all year,” he said.

As Vacaville Christian threatened a comeback, the TC offense came countering with three runs in the bottom half of the fifth as Jayden Espinoza singled in a run while Julian Espinoza and York drove in two more on sperate groundouts, making it a 10-4 game.

VC senior Bryce Pazdel cut the lead again with a bases loaded walk, but the Falcons would fail to do any additional damage in the top of the sixth. In the bottom half, though, the Eagles would bring three more runners across via a Ruezga 2-RBI triple and a Jayden Espinoza RBI single, extending the lead to 13-5, a score that would stand for the remainder of the game.

After it was all said and done, Blake reached base a total of four times, driving in a run and scoring three runs himself. He talked about the TC’s approach at the plate throughout the game.

“I was just trying to make good contact, barrel it up and keep it simple. We're doing good here now. Everybody is chipping in any way they can,” Blake said.

Now with a 1-0 series advantage, York explained how his squad can remain motivated to ensure that they can get the job done on Wednesday in Vacaville and avoid a decisive Game 3.

“We're taking every game one game at a time,” he said. “We’re not looking past anyone. We've put ourselves in a pretty good position, but it's going to be all hands-on deck on Wednesday. We like where we stand right now. We just need to keep the momentum, stay confident and just try to do it again.”

The winner of this series, whether decided on Wednesday or Friday, will move on to take on the winner of the Delta/Valley Christian series in the Division 7 section championship.