STOCKTON — Ask Pitman High baseball coach John Acha why his team is having success in the playoffs and his answer is simple.
"Our league (Central California Conference) is so competitive, just playing in league prepares you for the playoffs," Acha said. "I feel we have the best league around and that's all there is to it."
Pitman helped the CCC flex its muscle by defeating Modesto Metro Conference champion Beyer 7-4 Thursday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs at the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field.
The CCC is 5-0 through the first two rounds of the playoffs with Turlock, Pitman and Buhach Colong left among the final four teams in the South bracket. The Pride will face Buhach Colony on Saturday at 7 p.m. at UOP.
The Pride (16-12-1) got a strong performance from starting pitcher Trevor Chaney, who went the distance, striking out seven in the victory.
"He has a plus-fastball and he kept us off balance all day," said Beyer coach Dom Duran, whose team finished with a 16-11-1 record. "He had great command and more than half of the time he threw first-pitch strikes. We were down in the count 0-1 and 0-2 and that's tough on a player."
Pitman jumped out early with a run in the first on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jordan Gonzalez and a solo home run by Zach Gurr in the second inning over the left-field wall.
However, the Pride had an opportunity to score more. They had the bases loaded in the first inning with no outs, but Beyer starter Micah Hall was able to limit the damage to just one run. Pitman had a leadoff double in the fourth inning, but Hall struck out the next three hitters to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Pride started 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position through the first four innings.
Beyer scored a pair of runs in the third inning to pull even at 2-2. A hit batter and a misplayed bunt by Pitman helped the Patriots load the bases with no outs. Dempsey Grover was then hit by a pitch to force in the first run and Cameron Godfrey plated the tying run with a fly ball to center.
Pitman regained the lead in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Byron Baker. The Pride then broke open the game with a three-run sixth inning. Brennan Hauser, Chaney and Baker all drove in runs during the rally.
"This feels great," said Hauser, who went 2-for-3 with two doubles. "We never thought we would get this far. Our goal was to make the playoffs. We never expected this. This is great."
The Patriots scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run single by Austin Tatum to cut the lead to 7-4. Joe Pedlowe followed with a single that would have brought the tying run to the plate, but Tatum, who was trying to score from second, was thrown out at home by Pitman left fielder Armando Moreno to end the game.
Duran decided to send the runner despite the three-run deficit.
"I felt I wanted the run now, I didn't want to wait any longer," Duran said. "I rolled the dice on the left fielder's arm. His accuracy wasn't there earlier. It was there. I saw our kid scoring easily. It didn't happen."