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Turlock edges Pitman again in back-to-back battles
Gavin Gaffaney of Turlock tags out Pitmans Drew Lewis, who attempts to steal second during the third inning of Fridays CCC contest. Gaffaney would be injured in the sixth inning and unable to walk, he was carried off by the coaches. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

Pitman and Turlock High met on the diamond again on Friday after squaring off on Wednesday to make it two games in three days between the two cross town rivals, and fortunately for the home team, Turlock, things would end well again.

Meeting in a critical Central California Conference showdown, stakes were high due to the tight race for postseason as Pitman was in a must-win scenario but the Bulldogs of Turlock have been unstoppable in every phase of the game as they edged out their rivals in a 7-3 win at home. 

“I am proud of our guys we played well this week, two good games and for Turlock baseball all around it was great,” Turlock head coach Mark de la Motte said. “It was a good week for us. Pitman plays tough; we play tough, get a couple breaks and big hits and outlasted them.”

Unfortunately for Pitman, their chance of repeating last year’s run might seem slimmer after the loss. The Pride are now 4-6 in league, which is good enough for fourth place with Atwater in that third place position at 6-4.

Pitman will have to not only win out but get their team going after they have bolstered up the third most runs in league (55) but have allowed the second most (59) after Friday’s loss.

“Hopefully we can feed off last year’s team but we are in the same spot, but looks like we definitely might need help from some of the other teams as well. So we’ve done it before, we can do it again just depends if the kids can believe in themselves,” Pitman head coach John Acha said.

The Turlock Bulldogs cannot seem to be doing any better as they have won seven consecutive contests and are 9-1 in CCC.

After Turlock notched two runs in the first inning, Pitman came into the second with a goal in mind, to score runs.

The Pride’s Drew Lewis jacked an RBI single off Turlock’s Jon Temple with one out which was followed by a Matt Carrigg RBI sacrifice fly to deep right center to tie it at two each.

Turlock was able to rebuttal quickly as they racked on their third and fourth runs in the bottom of the second after Alex Pallios and Austin Bush drilled back-to-back RBI doubles to go up 4-2.

In the bottom of the fourth, Turlock would add their fifth run after a sophomore battle ended in Temple getting the RBI double off Carrigg.

“We are pretty scrappy. I feel we’re playing better. We must keep it up now. It’s the time since were 2/3 done with league. We have a lot of guys who have come in and have done a great job for us,” said de la Motte.

Two more runs would be added in the sixth before Turlock’s Gavin Gaffaney sustained what looked to be a serious ankle injury at first base.

The senior shortstop was sprinting to first base after a soft hit but landed on the base wrong and dropped to the ground in pain. He tried walking it off but instead would need the assistance of his coaches to help carry him off before a standing ovation from both crowds.

“Were going to have to fill those shoes that Gavin left, but we have some depth and our guys are starting to buy into their roles and stepping up and performing. We’re getting better as a team,” de la Motte said.

With the score 7-3 in favor of Turlock and one last opportunity in the seventh and final inning, the Pride looked to make a run after Brent Gonsalves and Drew Lewis made it on base safely with no outs.

With both players in scoring position and Carrigg up to bat, things looked to be working in favor of Pitman but a great off-speed pitch from Turlock’s Marcus Lopez forced Carrigg to chase it and it was a groundout that turned into a double play after a base running miscue from Darren Finney who was caught in a pickle from third and home to make it two outs and end the threat.

“Goes back to some of the things we been struggling with all year, the guys thinking before each pitch and needing to know but that base running error hurt us in that inning,” said Acha when asked about the pickle at third.

Turlock’s Nick Gonzales would pick up the win for the ‘Dogs after tossing up 3 2/3 innings and allowed only two hits, one walk and no runs.

“Gonzo [Nick] came out and did well again. Now we must play five more games so we’re in a good spot right now,” de la Motte added.

Turlock tallied eight hits for the day while they forced Pitman to walk six and hit three batters.

“The walks and all hurt us but a bit skewed since we had half those walks in the seventh after already trailing so that didn’t affect it too much. Really we just had a few walks and giving up four runs early really affected us,” Acha said.

Alex Pallios would be the only player of the game with multiple hits as he went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Pitman’s Carrigg would get the no decision after tossing 3 2/3, allowed only one run and struck out four. He also went 1-for-3 with an RBI from the plate.

Pitman’s next game will prove to be critical as they will host fifth place Buhach Colony (2-8) at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The Bulldogs of Turlock will host Buhach with the starting time set for 4 p.m. Wednesday.