LODI — No high school in the Sac-Joaquin Section has won more baseball titles than Central Catholic.
So it's safe to say the Raiders have seldom, if ever, had to endure a postseason doubleheader like they did on Tuesday.
Needing one victory over Manteca to advance to the Division 4 championship game, Central twice was extended into extra innings, falling 13-6 in the nine-inning opener before winning the nightcap 6-5 in eight innings.
After tying the game with two outs in the seventh, Central claimed the victory when Aiden Westrope's fourth hit, a bloop double to left field, scored Joseph Candelario from second base with two outs.
For Westrope, a senior on a very young team, getting a win means he gets another shot at a section crown. Very few seniors have moved through the Raiders program this millennium without hoisting a baseball banner.
"It means everything to me and our team because we always fight hard right until the end," Westrope said. "I was looking and hoping for something down the middle so I could do the same thing I'd been doing the whole game."
Despite advancing to Monday's finals against the survivor of today's Oakdale-Cosumnes Oaks semifinal, the action was very much uncharacteristic of a program with 11 section baseball titles under its belt.
Raiders pitchers walked 21 batters and had six errors committed behind them in the two games. They lost a first-game lead when rundowns were blown in the field in back-to-back innings.
"We pride ourselves in giving up three walks a game," said Central Catholic coach Mike Glines. "We started a freshman and two sophomores and they've been playing great ball. But today they played like they're young, with the botched rundowns and the errors."
In the second game, Manteca scored in the first on Lucas Vaughn's RBI double into the left field corner, and Central forged a tie in the third when Jonathan Weatherred homered to left.
But the Buffaloes responded immediately with three runs, taking advantage of two walks, an outfield error to set up Dominick Pisano's two-run single to right.
Central Catholic, held to one run over three innings by starter Nathan Chivello, scratched back with two runs in the fifth to pull within 4-3.
One run scored on a balk while the other came on when Brevin Van Diepen lined a two-out double to left, his sixth RBI of the doubleheader.
Manteca got that run back in the sixth on Buddy Reeder's two-out RBI single, which looked to be enough when Central Catholic made two quick outs in the seventh.
But a single and two walks loaded the bases, and Chandler Bengston smacked a 3-2 fastball into right field for a game-tying single.
The Buffaloes forced a decisive third game by erupting for seven runs in the ninth inning of Tuesday's daylight game.
Manteca had gone 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position in the first eight innings, but everything it hit found a spot in the ninth.
Buddy Reeder had a two-run double, which was followed by Jake Corn's two-run single as the Buffaloes sent 12 batters to the plate.
Central Catholic took a 3-0 lead into the fifth, but Manteca took advantage of some shoddy defensive execution to post three-run rallies in the fifth and sixth innings. In both uprisings, the Raiders failed to record an out in rundown situations.
Central sent the game into extra innings when Van Diepen delivered an RBI single with one out in the seventh. Van Diepen finished three-for-three with five RBI.
"I counted 20 mistakes in that first game and still had a chance. In the second game - I don't know," Glines said. "We've been here 14 years in a row, but this will be our first chance to play for a section title in a while."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek