Hometown fans were cheering in the stands at both Turlock and Pitman high baseball fields on Friday as each teams’ victory secured them a share of the Central California Athletic League title. The crosstown rivals entered the week tied on top of the league standings, and both swept their respective final series.
Turlock was up against Gregori High and took a 2-1 lead early. After it being a stalemate for a couple of innings, the Bulldogs opened things up in the fifth inning with five runs. It all started with a three RBI triple by Kody Sims with the bases loaded. The Bulldogs ran into some trouble in the top of the sixth when they loaded the bases. They gave up five runs, but still maintained the 8-6 lead.
With the game close, Turlock decided to put their foot on the gas and bring home four runs in the bottom of the sixth, while going through three of the Jaguars’ pitchers. That was all they needed and walked away with the 12-6 win. Boston Souza went five and a third innings and got the win.
“This is a good league, every series, every game we played, there were not any blowout games,” said Turlock head coach Sean Gilbert. “Our success has gone through our pitching and our pitching staff which has been outstanding and we need to keep it going going forward.”
Pitman was in a dogfight for most of the game against Enochs High as it was 4-2 going to the sixth inning. The Pride were able to open everything up in the sixth, scoring five runs to put some distance between them and the Eagles.
The star of the game had to be pitcher Mateo Garcia, who gave up two runs while pitching a complete game and he also had a home run. The Pride were able to put the Eagles away in the seventh and celebrate the 9-2 win.
“It feels great whenever you get a league championship,” said Pitman head coach Andy Walker. “The kids endured a long season and put in a lot of hard work. This is a great league and it tells you something about this team coming out on top.”
With the regular season in the rearview mirror, the teams turn their attention to the playoffs. Since Turlock won the season series, they will be seeded higher, but both teams should expect to host games in the first round. Both will have time to prepare with the playoffs starting on May 10. The teams finished league play with a record of 11-3, while Pitman had an overall record of 20-5-1 and Turlock went 19-8.
“The playoffs are the best of the best,” said Walker. “Every inning, every pitch is going to matter. We’re going to have to be on top of our game to have success.”
“We have to have a good week of practice,” said Gilbert. “We have 10 days off, so we have to have a good week. We have to simulate games and stay fresh and keep our pitchers in the bullpen and keep them on time so that they're ready to go. That's the biggest challenge, keeping our guys ready.”