Turlock High’s baseball team entered the Mark Dickson Tournament in Oakdale with an unblemished record and a goal to extend its stellar play through the tournament and into the beginning of Central California Conference play the following week.
That quest began on Monday with a first-round showdown against another undefeated team in Escalon High. Unfortunately for Turlock, however, the matchup in the Bulldogs’ (10-2 overall) first game of the tournament via a thrilling 5-6 final.
“We got into this tournament because these teams are competitive and we wanted to play as good of teams as we could headed into league,” head coach Mark de la Motte said. “It wasn’t a fluke that they beat us, they’ve got a good club.”
After both teams scored two runs a piece in the first inning, the Cougars (14-0 Overall; 2-0 TVL) took the lead with a run in the third inning. Turlock scored its second run of the night in the top of the sixth inning and Escalon notched two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, but it was the seventh inning that saw Turlock tie it up with a Mason King two-run homer.
The effort wasn’t enough though as the Cougars took the win with a home run hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.
King ended the game with 2 RBIs and Tyler Etharidge finished with 2 RBIs as well.
“They’re a good team. We made a few mistakes but we also came back to make it a tight game,” de la Motte said. “It’s no fun to get beat, but if you’re going to get beat it’s good to get it out of the way and learn from it before you move on.”
Turlock’s theme of playing from behind continued in its second game of the tournament against Gregori High that saw the Bulldogs battle back from six-run deficit to eke out a 10-9 victory.
Kayleb Becerra, Cole Carrigg and Tyler Soderstrom each finished the game with 2 RBIs while Etharidge, King, Justine Hines and Ethan Hurte scored one RBI each.
“We batted around; everybody contributed,” de la Motte said.
“It’s good to know you can do that but you can’t always rely on that happening,” de la Motte added about the come-from-behind win.
Turlock’s third and final game of the tournament ended in its second loss of the season as Beyer High walked away with a 5-10 win.
“We played pretty well offensively but we didn’t pitch great,” de la Motte said.
The Bulldogs led the Patriots (10-6 overall; 6-2 MMC) 5-1 after the fourth inning but a two-run fifth inning and a seven-run sixth inning proved to be too much for Turlock to overcome.
Soderstrom and Etharidge again proved to be effective with their bats against Beyer, finishing the game with 2 RBIs each. Alden Norquist rounded out the scoring with one RBI.
“Sometimes a loss, you hate to say it, but a loss can be good for you. It shakes you back into reality,” de la Motte said.
Now, with their first losses of the season fresh in their memories, the Bulldogs are preparing for Merced High in the CCC season opener on Friday. The Bears (5-10 overall) will host the game before travelling to Turlock on Wednesday.
“They’ve gotten off to a slow start but they have a few returners who can swing the bat well,” de la Motte said. “We just need to show up with our best game on Monday.”