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'Jackets and Bulldogs finish two, three individually at Pitman Invitational
Michael Hanham watches his shot at the Pitman Invitational on Thursday during a 92 stroke effort. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

With the end of the regular season in sight, Turlock, Pitman and Hilmar High golf took a break from the Central California Conference and the Trans Valley League for non-league competition at the Pitman Invitational at the Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club in Patterson on Monday.

The Pride played host to 15 schools and finished ninth in team standings with 398 strokes. The Bulldogs finished with 342 strokes, good enough for third behind Gregori and Buhach Colony High, and Hilmar finished in a tie for eighth place with Kimball High with 381 strokes.

 The best individual golfer of the day belonged to the Thunder with Brandon Gordian's 75 strokes, just ahead of Yellowjacket Landon Azevedo and Bulldog Logan Adams who finished second and third with respective stroke counts of 76 and 77.

The break from league competition came at a time where the three schools, who are all top-three in their respective league standings, are focusing on refining their game for postseason play.

For Hilmar, the Pitman Invitational was a chance to target technique and to get rid of bad strokes when they didn't count.

“All of our kids could have played a little bit better, everything there is higher than their average. The team average was higher than expected,” Hilmar head coach Ty Pettigrew said. “And talking with Landon, he left quite a few shots out there. He said he lost a few balls,”

Hilmar — now 7-2 in the TVL after a recent seven-stroke loss to undefeated Escalon High — with a match against second place Ripon High on Thursday in the first of three remaining regular season matches.

“We’ve got some big matches coming up,” Pettigrew said. “We were probably the smallest school there, you know playing a lot of CCC teams and VOL teams. It was good experience.”

Pitman, who currently sits in third place in the CCC, opted to spread time on the course across its roster rather than play its usual lineup.

“By having those kids play in the tournament we’ve now played every kid on our team in a tournament or a match,” Pitman head coach Matt Jeans said of his three, four and five golfers. “They definitely played well compared to the rest of the field, especially playing at Diablo Grande. It’s a tough course.”

The Pride have two matches left before the CCC Championships with Merced High scheduled for Thursday and a cross-town match with Turlock on April 23.

“We’re trying to nail down that two spot and trying to catch Buhach and Turlock,” Jeans said. “Definitely beating Turlock is a must.”

As for Turlock, its fate in the CCC rests in its hands on Thursday when they clash with the Thunder for first place in league.