The Pitman Pride varsity baseball team are Central California Conference co-champions, following an unusual ending for league play.
Following their first league shutout loss just two days prior to Buhach Colony, and a Turlock High win that same day, the scenario was set for the possibility of a three-way tie for the CCC banner, the only thing is Pitman needed the win to secure at least a share of it.
Starting pitcher Brett Hagen came through big for his squad after the senior pitched a complete game and was able to contain the BC offense to three runs while the Pride notched four runs to secure one final CCC title for the Pitman in a 4-3 victory over the BC Thunder.
“Pretty crazy, I guess we are all part of it… we are so happy, but it is pretty crazy,” said Pitman head coach Andy Walker. “Yesterday at practice, we talked and our message was at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you lose 1-0, or 10-0, it’s how you respond to it.”
Well, Pitman responded exactly the way they needed to in order to get a claim on the title.
“We had a chance to get a piece of a CCC league championship and many teams don’t get that opportunity and we had to turn the page and find a way to get the next one,” said Walker. “It’s the way this game goes.”
When the 2018 spring season kicked off for the Pitman varsity baseball team, few outside of the program expected such a strong finish, mainly since the Pride lost a bulk of their squad from a year ago and welcomed many newcomers.
Only five players returned from last season’s roster.
The team also silenced any doubters as they captured the program’s third CCC title in four years (2015, 2017 and 2018) and second consecutive season sharing the title with crosstown foe Turlock High after both went 10-2 a year ago.
“I know there were many people thinking we may not be here but we believed in each other and it is all that matters — what our coaches and our 17 players think,” said Walker. “If we stay together and play well, we can do something special and they worked hard and I am very proud of them.”
It was also the first for coach Walker in his first season as head coach for the Pride and his last competing in the CCC.
Pitman won five of its last seven regular season games.
They close out the regular season with an overall record of 16-10 and 9-3 in the CCC.
“It is a good feeling and really proud of the kids... to have a whole new coaching staff and really only have four returners from last year and six seniors, to be in that position at this point in the year is pretty remarkable,” said Walker. “The kids embraced us as coaches and they bought into what we told them.”
On Wednesday, Buhach Colony started strong, scoring the first run in the first inning.
Pitman then added three runs in the bottom of the second to go up, but BC responded with two in the top of the third to tie the game at 3-3.
The Pride scored what turned out to be the game winning run in the bottom of the third and Hagen was able to fend off the Thunder offense, closing the game with a strikeout to end the contest in the seventh.
Mac Cabero finished the game with an RBI for Pitman. Garret Lema was 2-for-3 and scored two runs. Jay Huerta was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Nick Tullio was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Joey Romeo was 1-for-3 and scored a run.
“It was a good team win, a lot contributed,” said Walker. “It helps when Brett (Hagen) is on the mound, he loves the big moment and embraces it, he will always battle…(It) was just a back and forth game, nobody wanted to give up easy, it seemed like there was a batter on base every inning.”
Hagen pitched all seven innings and allowed just three earned runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out five.
No. 5 Pitman will host No. 12 Tracy in the first round of the Division-II Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs at 4 p.m. Tuesday.