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PREP ROUNDUP: Hughson baseball struggles against Sutter
Hughson baseball
Hughson’s JC Lupercio walks back to his dugout in frustration after a deep fly ball is caught in the fifth inning of the Huskies’ 10-2 loss to Sutter in the first game of the Sac-Joaquin Section D-5 semifinal series on Monday afternoon (ALEX MORALES/The Journal).

Throughout the 2024 season, the Hughson High varsity baseball team has been dominant, earning a 25-2 regular season record and winning the Trans-Valley League with an 11-1 record. Of their 25 wins, 12 have been by double-digits to help them earn the second seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 playoffs. On Monday afternoon in the first game in the best-of-three semifinal series against third-seeded Sutter, the roles were almost completely reversed as they fell by a 10-2 score.

On the mound for Hughson was ace Caleb Wilson, who had achieved a 1.09 ERA and a team-high 91 strikeouts this season. While his velocity was well, sitting in the mid-to-high 80s, his control was just a bit off, surrendering three runs on three hits and three walks in 2 ⅓ innings. He was pulled at 51 pitches as a precaution in case the series were to go to three games.

“The velocity was there, but the control of the offspeed pitches really wasn't,” head coach Charly Garza said of the right-hander. “Sometimes with pitchers, they'll just lose it for a little bit. And then he started to lose control of his fastball, and at that point, you just gotta go with someone else.”

Reliever Bryce McDaniel didn’t fare much better, as he was tagged for six runs in 3+ innings.

Offensively, the Huskies similarly struggled against left-handed starter Rylan Giovannoni, who gave up one earned run on four hits in five innings of work. The TVL champions, who had a team batting average of .346 in the regular season, totaled just five hits by game’s end, leaving Garza a bit perplexed.

“I don't actually don't have an answer for you,” admitted Garza when asked about the team’s offensive struggles. “That lefty, solid pitcher, but I didn't see him doing anything different than when we faced other pitchers… I think the guys were saying he had a good changeup, had some movement on his balls which was causing us not to barrel balls up as much. But I just don’t know.”

There will already be plenty of pressure on the Huskies heading into Wednesday's elimination game, which will take place at 4 p.m. in Sutter. It only elevates due to the fact that they will face one of the top pitchers in the section, University of Hawaii commit Jagger Beck. An intimidating figure standing 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, the hard-throwing right-hander has a 7-1 record and a 0.35 ERA and 70 strikeouts over 40 innings.

“It’ll be a battle,” Garza said. “​​I'm a firm believer that you don't change what got you here, especially if you have success. We’re 26-3, beating a lot of good teams. We're doing things right. You just have bad days. We don’t want to overreact. We just stay positive.”


Turlock Christian baseball falls to Woodland Christian

The fourth-seeded Eagles of Turlock Christian High School were only able to muster up two runs on two hits and nine walks in a 9-2 loss in the first game of the Sac-Joaquin Section D-7 semifinal series against top-seeded Woodland Christian Cardinals on Monday afternoon. TC will try to avoid elimination on Wednesday at 4 p.m. when the series transitions to Pedretti Park.

Southpaw sophomore Blake Starn could not replicate his complete-game shutout performance from last Wednesday’s 5-0 win over Golden Sierra. In five innings of work against the Cardinals, he surrendered nine runs on 13 hits and four walks. The first two runs scored by WC came on a first inning error, and the Eagles just couldn’t recover.

TC’s lone runs of the game came in the fifth frame. Cam Kelley drove in the first run with an RBI single before Michael Miller earned a bases loaded walk.



Bulldogs bounced by Lodi in softball playoff opener

Despite being tied with the Lodi High Flames in the hit column in Tuesday afternoon’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 softball playoffs, Turlock High fell by a lopsided 11-2 score. 

The Bulldogs, who had a 13-11-1 overall record and placed third in the Central California Athletic League going 8-7 in conference play to nab the bracket’s No. 11 seed, committed 10 errors against the sixth-seeded flames.

Aside from the self-inflicted wounds, the Bulldogs generated minimal offense against Lodi starter Hannah Escalante, who surrendered six hits while punching out four. Turlock’s two runs came in the third inning when Chloe Dias and Gianna Roe scored on the same play that began with a passed ball and a throwing error. Reliever Ashlyn Jubrey struck out another three in a pair of scoreless innings to shut the door on Turlock’s 2024 season.