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Rivals collide in todays Pedretti Championship
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Turlocks Luis Mendez heaves a pitch during the first inning of Thursdays win over Johansen High in the first round of the 29th annual Atch Pedretti Tournament. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The championship game of  the 29th annual Atch Pedretti Tournament will be played today at 1:30 p.m. — and for the first time in history rivals Turlock and Pitman High will be competing for the rights to the title.

The Pride claimed last year’s tournament crown for the first time in school history and are determined to put in a repeat performance today. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, enter today’s matchup motivated to win their home tournament and spoil Pitman’s dreams.

“The guys are really looking forward to it; they can’t wait,” Turlock’s head coach Mark de la Motte said.

“It’s going to give us a good look at each other before league, so it might be a benefit to both teams,” Pitman’s head coach John Acha said.

Turlock began its journey to the championship game with decisive, back-to-back victories over Johansen and Lodi High.  The Vikings were first on Turlock’s docket and played the Bulldogs close for the first inning and a half on Thursday. A four-run second inning was the beginning of Johansen’s end, however, as Turlock combined the pitching abilities of Luis Mendez with hard hits from the likes of Brett Cumberland (2 RBIs, 1HR) and Tyler Lucas (2RBIs) and the quickness of Gavin Gaffney (2SBs).

The Bulldogs walked away from round one with a 10-1 victory over the Vikings.

Turlock again produced a 10-run effort against Lodi on Friday, defeating the Flames 10-2. This time around the Bulldogs orchestrated a run by committee game plan and relied on the arm of Nick Voumard to shut Lodi down. Adam Groesbeck, Mendez, and Cumberland were amongst the Bulldogs to put points on the board before a four-run sixth inning solidified Turlock’s trip to today’s championship game.

“I was hoping we’d start to hit, which we are, so it’s a good combination with our pitching,” de la Motte said. “We’re taking better at bats and our guys are steadily improving.”

Pitman’s road to today’s game was much different than Turlock’s. The Pride’s games against Lincoln and Sonora High were contests of attrition and resourcefulness.

Thursday’s game against the Trojans started off slow with the first run being scored by Pitman in the fourth inning. After six innings the Pride led 4-1 thanks to the offensive efforts of Brent Gonsalves, Dakota Spillers, Wyatt Clapper, Eric Reza, and Kody Brackett and the impressive pitching performance of Jordan Gonzalez. But Lincoln battled back in the 7th inning, scored three runs, and tied the game, 4-4, by the end of regulation. The tie led to a decision via tie-breaker which Pitman won with nine hits to Lincoln's eight.

“It’s nice to be playing good baseball right before league starts,” Acha said.

Pitman provided an identical offensive performance against the Wildcats on Friday but improved defensively as its boys claimed a 4-1 victory. Trevor Chaney assumed pitching duties through six innings for the Pride in the near shut out while Byron Baker sent two runners across the plate with sacrifice flies.

“In both games we did a good job of manufacturing runs,” Acha said. “I’m really happy with the way we’ve played.”

Turlock and Pitman—who’s first intended meeting was slated for April 17—will face off at the Bulldogs’ home field. Though both teams entered the tournament with a goal to prepare themselves for league play, neither team was expecting this kind of early scouting opportunity.

“Just like any other team we want to go out there and win,” Acha said.

“It’ll be a special game; it will mean a little bit more,” de la Motte said.