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Pitman baseball opens playoffs with statement win
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Pitman’s Andrew Balentine throws a pitch during the Pride’s round one playoff game against Atwater High (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Fourth seed Pitman High baseball opened their playoff run with a dominating win over 12th seed Atwater High School on Tuesday. The game was called in the fifth inning after the Pride put up 11 unanswered runs.

“I don’t think I’ve been part of something like that in a playoff setting,” said head coach Andy Walker. “Once you get here there’s 16 good teams and Atwater plays good baseball. It’s a testament to our guys that they were able to play this well.”

Pitcher Andrew Balentine got the start and went the distance while giving up two hits. The Pride got on the board early when Mateo Garcia hit the ball over the wall for a solo homerun. The Pride didn’t let up in the second. Atwater’s pitcher started having some trouble with his control and Pitman took advantage.

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Marcus Perez waits for a pitch during Tuesday’s playoff contest (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

“He (Balentine) had a high percentage of strikes and was challenging hitters,” said Walker. “It helped get an early lead that helped settle him in. He really filled up the strikes today.”

After three walks of four batters, Gabe Gutierrez had one of the hits of the game with an RBI triple to open the game for the Pride. Balentine hit a sacrifice fly to add another run and the Pride took a 5-0 lead.

The Pride kept taking advantage of wild pitches with walks and steals. They were able to get multiple runners in scoring position in the third and add a couple more runs. Drew Walker hit an RBI double to get the first one in the inning home.

Knowing they only needed a few more runs to end the game early, the Pride kept the pressure on in the fourth. Christian Jacinto and Aiden Garcia hit three RBIs combined to give them a 11-0 lead. They took care of Atwater in the fifth and walked away with the impressive victory.

“We were able to have a plan and execute it really well,” said Walker. “We had a lot of good at bats where we were able to work the pitch count and put them in a bind.”

Pitman will either face Rocklin or Rio Americano at home on Thursday in the second round of the CIJ SJS Division Two Section Playoffs. The Pride finished tied for the league championship with the Bulldogs this season.