PREP ROUNDUP: Atwater eliminated from playoff contention

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comMay 1, 2013 

— Ryan Sanchez was flat on the grass as his legs started cramping after the game. The Atwater pitcher had given everything he had for seven innings in the hot sun.

His teammates were silent as they gathered their gear in the dugout.

They were angry, disappointed and maybe a little sick to their stomachs.

The Falcons watched their playoff hopes disappear as Pitman pinch-runner Drew Lewis scored from second base on Byron Baker’s two-run infield single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Baker couldn’t have placed the ball any better as Sanchez jammed him with a 3-2 fastball. However, Baker fisted a pop-up that landed behind the pitcher’s mound and he narrowly beat the throw from Atwater second baseman Ricky Mena for the game-winning hit.

The Falcons could only watch as the Pride dogpiled in front of home plate.

“It’s tough, especially the way it ended,” said Atwater coach Jarrod Pimentel. “The kids fought hard all game. Ryan pitched a hell of a game. He got a lot of ground balls.

“To have it end on a bloop single, that’s tough. I feel terrible for him. I feel terrible for the team.”

The Falcons (13-11 overall, 5-8 Central California Conference) came into the game needing a win to tie Pitman (13-11-1, 7-6) for the CCC’s third playoff spot with two games to go.

With Buhach Colony’s win over Merced on Wednesday night, the Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention.

Atwater had won three straight CCC games to come back from a 2-7 start to get in playoff contention.

The Falcons looked in good shape on Wednesday as they took advantage of three Pitman errors in the second inning to push across three runs.

The Pride pulled even with single runs in the second, third and fifth innings.

Atwater eventually regained the lead in the top of the seventh inning when Ricky Mena delivered a two-out single to score Brandon Curiel, giving the Falcons a 4-3 lead.

“It was very much a playoff-like atmosphere out here today,” Pimentel said. “It’s been like that the last few games, but today it was magnified and I think our guys played a little tight early on.

“I think they finally loosened up a little in the fifth and started playing.”

Sanchez was one out away and eventually one pitch away from getting the win for Atwater.

With two outs and runners on third and second, Baker took a 2-2 curveball that the Falcons thought was a strike.

Sanchez came back with a fastball that Baker got just enough of to lift a blooper over Sanchez’s head. Mena came charging in from second and made a barehanded play, but Baker beat the throw to first.

“Every kid dreams of being in that position,” Baker said. “In your dreams, you get a clean hit, but I’ll take it.”

Brennan Hauser easily scored from third on the hit to tie the game. Lewis never stopped running, scoring from second base without a throw for the game-winning run.

“We talk about that scenario,” Pitman coach John Acha said. “On a ground ball you roll right through just in case. Somehow that ball landed in the right spot. Drew Lewis didn’t hesitate.”

Turlock 2, Golden Valley 0

Nick Voumard struck out nine on his way to a two-hit shutout as the Bulldogs (13-0 CCC) extended their winning streak to 23 straight games.



Golden Valley 2, Merced 1

Everything the Cougars needed to happen on the final day of the regular season happened.

Sarah Callister scored two second-half goals to lift Golden Valley (9-5-1 CCC) to a win.

The win, combined with Turlock's 2-0 loss to Pitman, gives the Cougars a share of their first CCC championship in school history.

Both teams finished atop the conference with 28 points.

"It's the first banner on the wall," Golden Valley coach Lee Shaw said.

Shaw said his team had heard Turlock was down 1-0 at halftime by the end of the Golden Valley-Merced game. He's not sure how many of his players knew the Cougars had won the title by the end of the night.

"Now with Twitter and Facebook, our players probably all found out," Shaw said. "We'll have a celebration at school (today)."

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