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'Jackets fall to Huskies for first league loss
Thomas, Hughson offense have big day against Hilmar
Alex Chavez of Hilmar drove in the Yellowjackets only run in Wednesday's loss to Hughson. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Hilmar baseball topped Hughson 6-2 on Tuesday at home but failed to muster that same magic on Wednesday after a game that ended in a mercy-rule decision and gave the Yellowjackets their first league loss of the year.


It was a tale of two opposites in Wednesday's Trans-Valley League showdown.


Hughson junior pitcher Trace Thomas kept Hilmar off the scoreboard for over four innings and the bats were hot from the onslaught for the Huskies who toppled the Yellowjackets in an 11-1 mercy-rule win that ended in the bottom of the fifth.


“Hughson is a very good program. They are well coached and they do things right,” said Hilmar head coach Bobby Swedberg. “It is baseball, anyone can beat anybody on any given day and in the first game we hit great, but in this second game it was the other way around and they beat us.”


Thomas went on to pitch a complete game, tossing five innings and allowing just four hits and a single run as he picked up his third win of the year.


“Our pitcher did a great job changing speeds with his changeup and kept their hitters off balance,” said Hughson head coach Mike Bava. “We knew our defense is normally solid and played good defense behind a great pitching performance.”


Hughson also managed to accumulate 13 hits for the game offensively, forcing Hilmar's pitching staff to play with their backs against the wall.


Hilmar starting pitcher Zach Berberia went on to toss four innings and allowed Hughson to score five runs before being subbed out.


“They were able to chip away at Berberia early, which swung the momentum and got them going in the right direction,” said Swedberg. “We definitely had opportunities during the middle of the game, and especially early in the game and we just couldn't capitalize. You will have days like that.”


The offense for Hilmar only struck out twice from the plate, but failed to accumulate the hits needed after committing multiple outs by way of pop outs or groundouts.


Hughson sophomores Justin Watkins, Andruw Mendes, Wyat Kee and Colin Miller combined for six RBI and four of the team’s hits.


“We have four sophomores and a young team that is starting to understand baseball now,” said Bava. “We knew it would be a slow start but this game showed me an ability to adjust quickly.”


Hilmar finished with four hits and a single run.


The Yellowjackets only run came in the top of the fifth after Alex Chavez drilled a line drive RBI single through the third baseman and shortstop to put them on the board at 5-1.


The offense shut down after an inning ending double play and Hughson was able to score six runs in the bottom half of the fifth, ending with two outs after Hilmar went down by 10-runs.


“We came out here on the road and their pitcher did a good job of keeping us off balance early,” said Swedberg. “Their players put themselves in a situation to be successful every time they touched the field and they played a good game offensively today and we expected that.”


“Big difference in today was the approach at the plate,” Bava said. “In the first game I thought Bobby and Hilmar did a good job putting pressure on us with squeezes and big hitters came through for them.”


Hilmar's next game will be a non-league contest against Ceres on the road at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.