STOCKTON — Throughout Turlock's 26-game winning streak the Bulldogs have been able to come up with the big hits when needed.
That wasn't the case on Saturday as Turlock started out 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and finished just 2-for-13. The missed opportunities opened the door for St. Mary's to stop the streak with a 6-4 win in the third round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 South playoffs at the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field.
"I don't think we were as focused today as usual," said junior Austin Bush who homered and drove in two runs for Turlock. "Coming off that many wins we hadn't lost in a long time. We could have been better in the dugout."
The Bulldogs' last loss came in a season-opening 1-0 defeat to Lincoln on Feb. 22.
The Rams (17-12) came into the game with an impressive streak of their own three straight section titles.
St. Mary's jumped on Turlock pitcher Nick Voumard for three first-inning runs with the help of four hits. Scott Michaels, Zach Johnson and Nathaniel Thompson all drove in runs with consecutive hits in the frame.
"We played good defense," said Bulldogs coach Mark de la Motte, whose team dropped to 26-2. "A few of those balls in the first inning were hit in the right place at the right time. Shoot, what are you going to do. That's baseball.
"The road in the playoffs goes through St. Mary's. That hasn't changed."
Voumard settled in after the first inning and the Turlock offense had runners on base in every inning.
Finally, in the top of the fifth, Bush and Gavin Gaffaney hit back-to-back run-scoring singles to tie the game at 3-3.
The Rams, however, answered in the bottom of the fifth as Thompson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Leon Duron hit an RBI single to regain a 5-3 lead.
The lead was 6-3 in the seventh when Bush launched a solo homer over the right-field wall. It was Bush's second home run of the playoffs.
That was as close as Turlock would get. The Bulldogs return to UOP on Monday to face Buhach Colony at 4 p.m. in an elimination game.
If anything, the Bulldogs have proven they can put together a run.
"Can we win six in a row? Absolutely," de la Motte said. "We've got to start on Monday. Our guys aren't used to losing. It's going to be a long weekend for them, but that's good, too."
PITMAN 5, BUHACH COLONY 4, at Stockton The Pride erupted for four runs in the top of the third inning and eventually hung on for the victory.
Kody Brackett led off the third with a home run and Trevor Chaney hit a big two-run double during the rally that gave Pitman (17-12-1) a 4-1 lead.
The Thunder (19-11) scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 5-4. However, Pitman ace Jordan Gonzalez, who pitched a shutout against Tokay on Monday, was able to strike out Buhach's Darin Dupont on a 92 mph fastball to end the game.
The Pride will face St. Mary's in a winners bracket game on Monday at 7 p.m. Buhach Colony will face Turlock in an elimination game at 4 p.m. on Monday.
CENTRAL CATHOLIC 12, MANTECA 6, at Lodi Blake Escobar's three-run homer over the right-field wall at Tony Zupo Field highlighted a six-run fifth and escorted Central Catholic to a 12-6 win over Manteca. Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be played Tuesday night.
The Raiders (23-5) never trailed after scoring two runs in the first. CC stroked 16 hits in support of starter John Mundt and reliever Brad Nightengale, the latter a sophomore who finished the game after he entered in the fourth. Chandler Bengston and Jonathan Weathered had three hits apiece for the Raiders.
OAKDALE 9, VISTA DEL LAGO 2, at Lodi Later at Tony Zupo Field, Oakdale (21-8) broke open a scoreless game against Vista del Lago with eight runs in the fourth. Tanner Morgan's walk and a hit-and-run single by Eriksen Dickens ignited the rally that featured run-scoring hits by Eddie Machado, Colt Parshall and a two-run single by Miko Arpoika.
Bryce Dyrda struck out eight and walked no one, though he allowed a meaningless two2-run homer in the seventh. The teams meet for Game 2 Wednesday at 4 p.m.
LINDEN 7, ESCALON 3, at Stockton Escalon loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate but Linden ace Justin Giovannoni induced a flyout to preserve the Lions' win. Linden (24-4-1), the Mother Lode League champion, leads the best-of-three series 1-0 with Game 2 Wednesday at Billy Hebert Field.
Escalon (19-9-1) trailed 3-0 after giving up runs on a wild pitch, a suicide squeeze and an error in the fourth. The Cougars were down 4-0 before they pulled to 4-3, thanks in part to an RBI single by Tad Dimas, but Linden answered with three in the sixth.