The pregame infield/outfield drills may have been the most action the Turlock High baseball team's defense saw with ace Vince Wheeland on the mound on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs, riding a five-game winning streak into the postseason, took the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South tournament by storm, slugging out 11 runs en route an 11-0 win in five innings over Lodi High at Klein Family Field at the University of Pacific.
With the win, Turlock advanced into the double-elimination rounds of the tournament, which begin on Friday against the winner of the Enochs/St. Mary's game, which took place late Tuesday night.
Wheeland, working at his typically quick pace, was dominant and efficient, hitting all his spots and only allowing a three-ball count to one hitter. The senior struck out 10 Flames batters, including the first six he faced.
“I just came out and pitched,” said Wheeland, the future Oklahoma State Cowboy. “I did what I had to do and when (Lodi) hit the ball in the field, my defense did their job.”
The Bulldogs, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, were equally as impressive as an offensive unit, putting up 11 runs, including a seven–run explosion in the bottom of the fourth. Twelve batters came to the plate for Turlock in its half of the inning.
Bulldog center-fielder David Herrera introduced an off-speed pitch from Geeze Borges to the parking lot beyond the left-field fence for a two-run homer, exiting Borges from the game.
“(Borges) wasn’t throwing that hard, so I had to just sit on it,” said Herrera.
With a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third, Turlock’s first two hitters reached base before back-to-back doubles from cleanup hitter Ryan Cumberland and Herrera that ignited a three-run frame, giving Wheeland a 4-0 cushion heading into the fourth.
Turlock coach Mark de la Motte was pleased to have his team finish the game early with the 10-run mercy rule.
“It was good getting the 10-run rule because it saved (Wheeland) from throwing the rest of the game,” said de la Motte. “The bigger the game, the better he pitches. He was just dominant and had great control.”
The only blemish on Wheeland’s performance was a softly hit infield single off of Lodi's Kirk Sasaki that squeaked past Wheeland’s outstretched glove.
“From the beginning of the game, Vince looked good and I knew he would just carry us the rest of the way,” said Herrera.
Also, every Bulldog hitter recorded at least one hit.