ATWATER — The Turlock batting order doesn't give opposing pitchers a chance to relax.
Players like Austin Bush and Gavin Gaffaney would be hitting in the middle of the order on most teams. These two do their damage near the bottom of the order for the Bulldogs.
Bush and Gaffaney highlighted a four-run first inning as Turlock extended its winning streak to 21 games with an 8-2 win over Buhach Colony on Wednesday afternoon at Buhach Colony.
"Their lineup is really deep, that's the difference they have," Thunder coach Greg Wakefield said. "If you put guys on base, when you get to the bottom of their order they have some pretty good hitters."
Jonathan Ruiz gave up back-to-back singles to Cameron Matsumura and Luis Mendoza to star the game. Ruiz then walked the next two batters to force in a run.
Ruiz looked like he might limit the damage to just two runs when he got Tyler Murphy to hit into a double play, but Bush and Gaffaney crushed two straight doubles to extend the lead to 4-0.
"We've got some pretty good punch in the bottom of our order," Turlock coach Mark de la Motte said. "They gave us a couple opportunities and we took advantage of it."
Buhach Colony ace Daulton Jefferies had been the Thunder's Wednesday starter since spring break, but Wakefield felt Jefferies needed a couple extra days of rest after last week's start.
"I didn't have all my options today," Wakefield said. "Daulton wasn't the same on Saturday and Monday as he has been. He wasn't able to throw a bullpen on Monday.
"He wanted to throw today and I probably could have started him, but I didn't want to after him not feeling good on Saturday and Monday."
Jefferies did contribute with the bat, going 2 for 4 with two stolen bases and two runs scored.
Brandon Young also went 3 for 4 for the Thunder with a double and two RBIs.
Turlock (21-1 overall, 11-0 Central California Conference) put the game out of reach with three runs in the fifth inning. Brett Cumberland and Murphy both drove in runs and scored during the inning.
Bush led the Bulldogs' 10-hit attack, going 3 for 3 with two doubles and two RBIs.
Cumberland also finished with two RBIs.
The Thunder (13-10, 6-5) now find themselves tied with Pitman for second place, two games ahead of Merced and Atwater with four games remaining.
"We're right where we need to be, we control our own destiny to get in the playoffs," Wakefield said. "We knew it was still a long shot to win the championship if we won all five games.
"We figure if we win three, we're in for sure. If we win our next four we'll finish in second place."