Turlock’s Jon Temple was the hero in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Merced.
With two outs and a 1-1 score in the sixth inning, Brandon Booz led off the sixth-inning rally with a walk, and then senior Temple told teammate Tate Soderstrom to drive in Booz and finish it.
Instead, Soderstrom got on with a single and moved Booz to third, setting up Temple with the possibility of driving in the game winning run.
On a 3-1 pitch, Temple lifted a fastball up the right center gap and brought in Booz and Soderstrom after a two-run triple and Landon Curtis finished the final inning to capture his third straight win and the Bulldogs ninth straight.
“I wasn’t nervous going into the at-bat at all,” said Temple. “When Tate got on, I was thinking I need to capitalize. And good pitch on his part since I was pulling most of the game and the only thing going through my mind was to go opposite, line drive, anything, and I got it done.”
Temple drove in the game winning runs and secured the Bulldogs 11th straight Central California Conference win dating back to last year.
They improve to 8-0 in the CCC.
The Bulldogs last league loss was on April 30 of last year in a 6-5 loss to Pitman.
“We are a close group of guys and tonight we came to the ballpark and wanted to get the win,” said Temple. “Our starting pitching has been great but our offense is still coming along. We still have a big game tomorrow and we are looking forward to it.”
The offense was effective once again, and the pitching was once again strong for the Bulldogs after Curtis pitched a complete game and allowed just a single run in seven innings.
There were two mound visits and runners were in scoring position on two occasions but Curtis managed to pitch out of the jam late in the game.
“I felt like I definitely struggled to get my first pitch strike but these are the games we love playing; close games and nothing else you can ask for,” said Curtis who struck out five, walked two and allowed just two hits.
There were only six hits total for both sides in Thursday’s game and a combined five errors.
Turlock went up early in the second inning after Chris Steeley drilled a RBI triple to take a 1-0 lead.
Merced tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth. After two scoreless innings, the sixth inning was looking like another shutout inning after two quick outs for Turlock.
With two outs, the Bulldogs were able to rally with three of its top four hitters from the lineup contributing.
“Landon shoved and did a great job,” said Temple. “Just to get the team in that situation and to put me in that situation with some of the best guys hitting, that is really clutch for him to pitch the way he did and really clutch for Tate to get on and set me up to get a chance to win. But overall last inning our defense got it done, it was a great game.”
Temple was 2 for 3 with two RBI and Steeley had the other RBI.
“We want to try and win the series and sweep it if we get a chance since we don’t get a chance too often,” said Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte. “We want to give it our best shot, and we are not looking behind us. We are just looking at every game.”
Turlock will finish the three-game series with Merced on the road at 4 p.m. Friday before starting their three-game series next week.