STOCKTON — Zach Bianchi pumped his fist as he reached first base. The Buhach Colony senior watched as his sinking line drive fell in center field for a base hit to plate Jonathan Ruiz with the eventual game-winning run.
The Thunder survived a nine-inning marathon, defeating Tracy 3-2 on Thursday night in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs at the University of the Pacifics Klein Family Field.
Buhach Colony (19-10) advances to the third round on Saturday against Pitman (16-12-1), which defeated Beyer 7-4. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Thunder ace Daulton Jefferies gave his team everything he had, pitching into the eighth inning as he struck out 16 batters without a walk. He surrendered six hits and two runs. Little-used left-hander Andrew Mitchell came on in relief of Jefferies in the eighth and got one big out. Mitchell gave way to right-hander Jonathan Ruiz, who got a fly out to end the inning and pitched the ninth for the win.
It was a marquee matchup on the mound with the Cal-bound Jefferies facing UCLA-signee Jonah Wesely. However, Wesely left in the fourth inning after walking five and hitting three.
The Thunder trailed 2-1 entering the top of the seventh. Jefferies was able to score his second run of the game to tie the game at 2-2 on an errant throw to third by Tracy catcher Anthony Nunez after a wild pitch. Ruiz then walked to lead off the top of the ninth against Tracy right-hander John Jaeger. Jefferies followed with a double to left field to put two runners on scoring position with no outs.
Bianchi then hit a soft single to score Ruiz with the go-ahead run.
Buhach Colonys win improved the record of Central California Conference teams in the playoffs to 5-0.