Turlock baseball has a long history with St. Mary's High of Stockton, and it isn't a good one.
The string of defeats dealt to the Bulldogs by St. Mary’s continued Wednesday with a 15-4 mercy-rule loss in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I South tournament from the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field.
“We have a lot of younger guys that didn't relax and play the way we are capable of playing,” said Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte. “But give those guys credit, they put the ball in play and made the routine plays and we didn't.”
Turlock committed five errors for the game and unfortunately, it cost them in the end.
It started in the first inning and the bad luck just snowballed into the third inning.
Turlock starter Cameron Martin was uneasy after the senior walked five, gave up eight runs (four earned) on five hits and was taken out after just 1/3 inning pitched.
“A little case of nerves there early,” said de la Motte. “We just couldn't get out of that first inning and Cameron has never done that all year long. We couldn't get our guy hot, so we brought our left fielder in to pitch, but I will tell you that we wouldn't be here playing if it weren't for him (Martin).”
Lefty Kayleb Becerra came in for relief duties, but the Rams offense kept their momentum, scoring eight runs in the first inning alone to take an 8-0 lead after just one.
Becerra helped himself in the top of the second, drilling a three-run triple to deep center to cut the deficit to 8-3.
Becerra tossed 1 and 2/3, allowing seven runs, three earned on five hits, with four walks and one strikeout.
A scoreless second didn't mean anything as the Rams came in during the third and scored seven, eventually taking a 15-3 lead by the start of the fourth inning.
Junior lefty Alex Garcia tossed two shutout innings with two strikeouts to close out the game, but by then, the 'Dogs were trailing by more than 10-runs, ending in a mercy-rule decision after the top of the fifth ended.
Mason King had the final RBI hit in the top of the fourth for the Bulldogs fourth and final run.
Turlock ends the year having lost three of their last four games and amassing an overall record of 18-8.
Turlock is also 2-9 against St. Mary’s since 2010 in their 11 postseason meetings.
“We can come back here next year and compete and win this thing if we play the way we are capable of playing,” said de la Motte. “These guys have improved tremendously over the year and coming in next year, they will know what to expect and they will be better overall.”
Turlock has the luxury of returning at least seven of the normal nine starters for the following year.
The entire infield during the playoff game and for most of the season consisted of underclassmen. Three sophomores and a freshman made up the infield during both playoff games, with junior catcher Case Pacheco returning next year as well as pitchers Becerra, Garcia and Dallin Tilby.
“We will miss a few superstars but I think we will be solid next year,” de la Motte added. “Just have to be patient and know that they will make mistakes and grow and get better and become better people which they are. I think we will be a lot more consistent on defense next year, we will be a lot deeper.”