STOCKTON — Despite two losses earlier this season to Turlock High, Enochs baseball coach Matt Brown liked his chances in a third matchup.
"We did feel confident coming in," said Brown. "In each of those other games we had one bad inning. I thought if we could stay away from the big inning, we'd be OK."
The Eagles did not avoid the big inning Wednesday and, predictably, the result was the same.
Turlock scored four runs in the third the big blow a three-run homer by Austin Bush and went on to win 11-5 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 baseball playoffs at the University of the Pacific.
"Any time Turlock needed a big hit, any time they needed a big out they got it," said Brown.
Which is how teams that have won 26 games in a row usually go about their business.
The Bulldogs, after losing their first game of the season to Lincoln of Stockton 1-0 (the run was unearned), have now won 26 consecutive games. They beat Enochs 10-2 and 9-2 in the teams' previous matchups. And despite those lopsided results, the Eagles were ready to scrap.
After both sides went down in order in the first, Enochs scored when Mike McGhee doubled, beat the throw to third when he was just about caught straying too far off second, and then raced home on Brandon Pimentel's perfectly placed sacrifice bunt.
"That's a good club and they really improved as the season went on," said Turlock coach Mark de la Motte, whose team advances to face St. Mary's in Saturday's 4 p.m. game at Klein Family Field. The Rams beat Lodi 6-0 in Wednesday's late game.
"We're very fortunate to get past this one. It's almost impossible to beat a good team three times in one year."
It's becoming almost impossible to beat Turlock period especially if you make mistakes.
The Eagles squandered an opportunity for a big inning in the third when they left the bases full. Adam Groesbeck seemingly put the issue to rest early with a two-run shot in the fourth that made it 7-2.
But Enochs battled back and scored three times in the fifth off a laboring Tyler Murphy.
Nikko Delgado stepped up to the plate and roped one to the 405 sign in dead center.
Center fielder Cameron Matsumura whom de la Motte called "the fastest player I've ever had" chased down the ball but couldn't keep it in his glove. Demonstrating as much speed as Matsumura, Delgado made it all the way around for an inside-the-park home run.
"Those are probably the two fastest guys in the ballpark," said de la Motte.
Cameron Irinaga proceeded to drill a pitch to deep left-center, not far from where Delgado's ball went, but it was chased down by Tyler Lucas.
Murphy then gave up a two sharp singles followed by a two-run double from Trey Steadman. Suddenly, Murphy was being battered and Turlock's lead was just 7-5.
But when the ball squirted away from 'Dogs catcher Brett Cumberland during Derek Badovinac's at-bat, Steadman was cut down trying to take third.
"In that aspect, the aggression there was good," said Brown. "He just slid off the base. I like the aggressive play there. We teach the aggressive side of it."
Turlock responded by scoring a run on an error in the fifth, then closed it out with three in the sixth.
After the game, Brown announced that he would not return next season he plans to work toward a Master's degree and the emotion was visible on his face, and the players'.
"I'm very proud of this team," said Brown. "This was the group I wanted to finish with. They put in a lot of time and laid a foundation for this program."