Cody Cornell (7-0), pitched six innings, allowed only three runs on four hits and Marcus Lopez retired the final three outs as the Turlock High Bulldogs defeated Bear Creek, 11-5, at home on Monday in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament.
“Cody and Marcus pitched very well for us today,” said Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte. “I am just glad we got this out of the way. I like playing the play-in game because we don't need to wait long for the next game. It’s to our advantage.”
Although the win was to their advantage, they will next meet their nemesis and the team that has tormented and eliminated Turlock more times than not since de la Motte took over seven years ago—St. Mary's out of Stockton.
“I do feel confident about facing St. Mary's,” de la Motte said. “We might not be the greatest team in the world, but our guys are not afraid of anybody. ‘Bring them on’ is what our guys are saying. We will give them our best shot and loser goes home.”
It wasn't a smooth road to victory on Monday for the Bulldogs despite jumping out to an early 3-1 lead after the first inning.
Bear Creek tallied two more runs in the third and fourth but the Bulldogs offense, which went 14-of-28 from the plate, was on a roll and they had built a 7-3 lead by the end of the fourth.
Cornell then tossed two shutout innings before letting the bullpen finish the job.
After the Bulldogs scored four more runs in the sixth, the 11-3 lead was set but a seventh inning rally gave the Bruins life.
“We had a little hiccup at the end there,” de la Motte said. “They have a good team, I mean anyone that makes it this far into the season is pretty good and they didn't quit. You got to give them credit, but our guys played well and hit well.”
Blaine Weber came in for relief but after walking the first two batters of the inning, Lopez was summoned. The senior allowed only one hit but managed to strikeout the final batter on a 2-2 pitch to get the Bulldogs past the first round for the fifth time in seven years.
"We have been fortunate to have had great players and some good teams over the years,” said de la Motte. “I am proud of our guys. We get to this part of the season and we just want to keep on playing. It has been a good year for us.”
Eight of the team’s starters managed to get at least a hit for the game with Bubba Moreno and Jon Temple leading the herd with a perfect 3-for-3 performance.
“We swung the bats well, like we are capable of and we haven't done it lately but we swung it well today,” de la Motte said. “We got some big hits and added runs at the end and we needed it because we did not dominate near the end.”
It was also the first time since April 17 that the Bulldogs had scored 10 or more against an opponent.
“Pretty much everybody hit the ball well. Even our guys struggling hit,” said de la Motte. “I told them that it’s the playoffs so it’s a fresh start. Don't worry about your average or nothing like that because it’s just one game and I am happy the way we swung the bats.”
Turlock is now 18-9 overall heading into the second round of the postseason.
They will next face the #1 seed in St. Mary's at the University of Pacific at 7 p.m. Thursday.