Turlock and Pitman high met on the baseball field Tuesday afternoon for the first time this season. The Bulldogs (4-3 CCC) and Pride (3-4 CCC) entered their matchup in a tie for third place in the Central California Conference, adding fuel to the already heated rivalry.
After seven innings Turlock came out on top, 5-3, in the first of two meeting between the schools this week.
“It was a good ball game,” Turlock’s head coach Mark De La Motte said. “We jumped out to an early lead and they came roaring back.”
Turlock’s early scoring spree was a result of its defensive foundation, particularly Tyler Murphy’s exploits from the hill. Murphy, who pitched a complete game, struck out nine Pride batters and kept Pitman off the score board for five innings.
Murphy’s contribution to Turlock’s victory wasn’t relegated to the pitching mound. After a pair of third inning doubles from Turlock landed runners on second and third base, Murphy stepped up to the plate, gripped his bat, and hit the ball into right field, bringing the runners home and giving Turlock a 2-0 lead.
“Our hitting was lacking, but now we’re starting to come around,” De La Motte said. “We’re finally being aggressive at the plate.”
Turlock’s offense aggression continued in the fourth inning when Tommy Evans and another Bulldog hit a pair of RBIs to double Turlock’s lead.
When Pitman finally scored in the sixth inning it was in bunches. AJ Derr, Zach Olsen and Adam Nascimento each hit Murphy pitches, putting three points on the board for the Pride and setting up a potential Pitman comeback. But in the end, it wasn’t in the cards.
With Turlock’s lead cut to a point, Murphy once again stepped up to the plate and delivered, hitting a single that resulted in a Bret Cumberland run. When the day was done, Turlock had only struck out four times.
“We’re starting to get some momentum going, that’s good,” De La Motte said. “Usually, we have trouble against left-handed pitchers.”
Tuesday’s victory was Turlock’s fourth straight win and puts the team a game behind number two seed Merced High. The Bulldogs and Pride will meet again on Thursday, however, in a game with huge implications on the CCC standings.
“I expect another close ballgame,” De La Motte said. “Both teams came out really aggressive today so I’m thinking we’ll see the same thing on Thursday.”