MODESTO — Dakota Edwards did not throw a pitch for Turlock High last spring. A shoulder injury from a car accident forced him onto the track rather than the mound.
Let the record show one year later that Edwards is back, and so are the streaking Bulldogs.
All he did Saturday was blank the Escalon Cougars on two hits and six strikeouts, an 88-pitch gem that carried Turlock (20-1) to a 3-0 victory and the title of the 44th Dick Windemuth Spring Break Classic.
"We're doing everything right," said Edwards, a junior right-hander who spots his fastball, curve, slider and change for strikes. "It's fun to be a part of this."
Turlock, four games ahead with five left in the Central California Conference race, has strung together a school-record 20 straight wins since its 1-0 opening loss at Lincoln on Feb. 22.
One look at the Bulldogs shows why they're rolling dominant starting pitching and fundamentally sound everywhere else.
Get this: Edwards (3-0) is the team's No. 3 starter behind co-No. 1s Nick Voumard and Tyler Murphy. That Edwards notched Turlock's third straight shutout this week speaks to the Bulldogs' river-deep talent 60 feet, 6 inches from the plate.
"He (Edwards) had his best game," Turlock coach Mark de la Motte praised. "We won a playoff-type game against a good team. I was concerned we might come out flat after an emotional game yesterday (an 8-0 win over Pitman). I'm glad we responded."
The Windemuth final, rescheduled at Downey High after a wet-grounds postponement two weeks ago, showcased the top teams from the CCC and the Trans-Valley League. Between the wind knocking down anything ticketed for the outfield and two quality starters, only a few runs figured to decide the winner.
Sure enough, Edwards prevailed over Escalon right-hander Nathan Chunn in a game that didn't see a hit until the fourth inning. Chunn, the Cougars' powerhouse fullback last fall, came within one strike of escaping a major jam.
But Turlock's Gavin Gaffaney turned on a 2-2 fastball and ripped it down the left-field line to chase home the only run the Bulldogs needed. Two innings later, he lashed another RBI hit to left as the Bulldogs tacked on the insurance. Jacob Garcia singled home the final run.
"It's something special," Gaffaney said about Turlock's amazing season. "It doesn't happen very often. I'm blessed to be a part of this team."
Escalon (12-8-1), younger than its teams that swept to Sac-Joaquin Section titles the last three seasons, didn't submit easily. The Cougars twice erased the potential first run at the plate before Turlock broke through.
In fact, they nearly cashed in their only threat against Edwards in the fifth. But with runners at first and third, Escalon attempted a double steal it was a missed sign and Garcia, the Turlock second baseman, alertly pivoted out of a rundown and gunned down the runner at the plate.
The Bulldogs flashed such execution the entire game. They dropped four good bunts, three of them for sacrifices, to advance baserunners.
"That's a darn good team over there," Escalon coach Greg Largent said as he nodded toward Turlock. "We wanted to compete against them today and I think we did."
Edwards' rehabbed shoulder was the difference.