By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Three-run inning propels Pride past Downey
Pitman now tied for first place with Turlock in CCAL standings
pitman v. downey 4-17
With two outs in the fifth inning, Pitman’s Nathan Cervantes smacked a go-ahead, two-run double to lift the Pride 4-3 over the Downey Knights on Monday. - photo by Photo contributed by Katie Day

Backed by a pair of clutch hits by Aiden Sanchez and Nathan Cervantes, the Pitman High varsity baseball squad staged a two-out, three-run rally in the fifth inning of Monday’s contest against Downey High (Modesto) to defeat the Knights 4-3. 


With the win, Pitman (11-8) improved to 5-2 in Central California Athletic League play while the Knights (9-11) dropped to 4-3, with the two teams slated to play the second game of the three-game series at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Downey High. The Pride will enter the game tied for first place in the league alongside crosstown rival Turlock High (12-8) following the Bulldogs’ 5-4 loss to Enochs (Modesto) on Monday.


Facing Downey ace Aiden Larsen, the Pride trailed 3-1 with two outs in the fifth inning, with their only run to that point coming by way of a sacrifice fly by Cervantes in the first inning. The fifth inning rally began with senior Daniel Mazon reaching base with a single, which was followed by senior Alejandro Trujillo reaching base on a catcher’s interference call. Mazon came around to score on a base hit by Sanchez. The next batter, Cervantes, smoked a fastball down the left field line to bring in Trujillo and Sanchez to give his team the lead. 


“My mindset was just, ‘I gotta keep it going. I gotta keep the line moving and try to give us this lead,’” Cervantes said. “We’re all dogs. We fight, and we fight till the end.”


Starting on the mound for the Pride was sophomore Jackson Way. All three of Downey’s runs off Way came in the second inning. Jaxen Rowland drove in one on a base hit while the other two came in on a pair of errors.


Pitman head coach Andy Walker explained that it is imperative that his team clean up the errors, as they now have 37 on the year. And it’s especially important with Way on the mound, as the right-hander features a four-seam fastball, a split-changeup and a slider. He relied heavily on the changeup Monday, inducing several groundball outs to help complete six innings in which he gave up the one earned run on two hits and four walks while punching out eight.


“I started out confident, feeling good. I struggled a little bit (when I) hit a couple of guys and walked a couple guys,” Way said. “Not the best start you want. But after that, I kind of just had to man up, find the control and find my way back in it, and that's what I did.


“The changeup was on, for sure. That helped me a lot today.”


Mazon came on in relief of Way in the seventh inning. After allowing a leadoff walk, he forced a lineout. A single put two runners on and the tying runner in scoring position, but Mazon earned a strikeout before getting the final batter of the game to line out to second base.


“That was pretty huge,” Mazon said. “Downey always puts out a good squad. They did again this year. They have some good guys out. So if we're able to go out there and take a W in game one against a guy who threw really well, that’s huge for us and we hope to keep that going down the line.”


Larson tossed a complete game, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk while also striking out eight.


“Every win is big, obviously,” Walker said. “I feel like our league is really solid. It's really balanced. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. But we only have like what? Less than three weeks of baseball left at this point? So, if we want to stay in the hunt, we have to win every game we can. So yeah, it feels good, but we have to do more to try to win the series this week.”


Following Wednesday’s game, the two teams will return to Pitman High to complete the series at 4 p.m. on Friday.