Many could argue that 2013 was Turlock High’s most successful baseball season to date. The Bulldogs won both the Atch Pedretti and Dick Windemuth tournament titles, stormed the Central California Conference championship with an undefeated league campaign, and set a new Turlock record with a 26 game consecutive win streak.
Despite all this, however, Turlock was unable to best its greatest Division I Sac-Joaquin South Section foe, St. Mary’s High, in Wednesday’s championship game at the University of Pacific’s Klein Family Field. After snapping the Bulldogs’ win streak in the third round of the tournament, the Rams defeated the CCC champs for a second time with a 5-1 effort to secure their third consecutive South Section championship.
“There’s no one better than them and right now we’re number two,” Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte said. “Got to give them credit; they play a tough schedule and it shows at the end of the year.”
Though the Bulldogs (28-3 overall, 10-0 CCC) were energized by the pair of wins over fellow CCC competitors Buhach Colony and Pitman High that got them into the championship, they entered Wednesday’s game with the cards stacked against them. Not only did they have to beat the Rams (20-12 overall, 9-1 TCL) twice to exit the tournament as champions, they also had to face their opponent’s ace, Joe Caffese, while putting their own Nick Voumard on the hill with only a few days rest.
Caffese’s arm was the story through most of the game as he routinely sent Turlock batters back to the dugout without a hit. On the few occasions Turlock did make contact, Ram defenders were in perfect position for the outs.
“We made contact, we just hit it right at them,” de la Motte said. “We hit well, but that’s the way it goes.”
Voumard’s day involved a lot more work, but the Bulldog was able to get himself out of jams when he needed to and went a full five innings without allowing an earned run. St. Mary’s scored once in the first inning and again in the fifth inning, but those runs were products of Turlock errors and sacrifice flies.
After playing from behind for the majority of the game, Turlock finally got some offense going in the top of the sixth inning. Luis Mendes got the ball rolling with single—Turlock’s first hit of the day—which was followed by a Brett Cumberland RBI double. For the time being, the Bulldogs were in the game, but a three-run sixth inning from the Rams against reliever Tyler Lucas killed any momentum Turlock had left.
“It’s a mixture of emotions; disappointment for our seniors, but this was a fantastic year,” de la Motte said. “They were the backbone of our program. They’ve done everything we’ve asked for four years. They had nothing more to give. I’m really proud of them and the whole team.”
Voumard finished with five strikeouts, four hits, and no earned runs through five innings. Caffese pitched a complete game and finished with six strikeouts, three hits, and one earned run.
Wednesday’s game not only marked the end of Turlock’s season, it was also the last high school game for Voumard and eight other Bulldog seniors.
“We got a good junior crop and the sophomores coming up are good, too,” de la Motte said. “We’re looking forward to next year. Sorry to see the seniors go, but it’s been a hell of a year.”