STOCKTON — The first two pitches from Mark Ackerman were buried in the dirt, wide of the plate. The Beyer High right-hander eventually walked Tracy leadoff hitter Braeden Oki on four pitches.
It was a sign of things to come as Ackerman struggled with his command, walking four and hitting two in four innings. Four of the free passes scored as Tracy ended the Patriots’ season with a 7-5 victory in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs at the University of the Pacific’s Klein Family Field on Wednesday night.
“It’s tough,” Ackerman said. “I tried to compete and battle through it. It’s going to be tough. It’s my last high school game. I’m going to look back and know I could have done better.”
There was plenty of blame to go around as the Beyer offense was silenced by Tracy starter Anthony Nunez after the Patriots scored three runs in the first inning.
“Our approach didn’t change after the first inning,” Beyer coach Dom Duran said. “We didn’t get in the good hitting counts that we usually do. We pride ourselves on being able to move guys over and we were unsuccessful on three bunt tries. Our failure to sacrifice played a big part.”
Beyer (19-8) took advantage of a walk and a dropped fly ball to jump out to a three-run lead in the top of the first. All three runs scored with two outs as Anthony Enwiya drove in a run with a single and Jack Large scored on a wild pitch. Jason Perry drove in the third run with an infield single.
“I just let the pop fly and the ground balls that should have been played go,” Nunez said. “It was only the first inning. We still had to six innings to go. I wasn’t going to let that bother me.”
The Bulldogs (21-7) took advantage of two walks and a hit batter in a three-run second inning. Jacob Alvarado delivered the big blow with a two-run, two-out triple to tie the game at 3-3.
“Again, we pride ourselves on pitching and defense, and unfortunately today we had a hard time throwing strikes,” Duran said. “Two or three innings after we took the lead we walked the leadoff guy. That kills you.”
Aaron Denholm gave Tracy a 4-3 lead in the third with an RBI double down the right-field line.
The Patriots answered with a run in the top of the fourth. Jacob Perry reached on an error to start the frame and Connor Crawford delivered a two-out double.
The Bulldogs’ Jacob George crushed a triple to plate Robbie Ramirez, who had reached on a leadoff walk, to give Tracy a 5-4 lead in the fourth.
The Bulldogs tacked on two insurance runs off Beyer reliever Jentry Cox in the fifth. Nunez and Robbie Ramirez both singled with Ramirez driving in his second run of the game.
“They were extremely disciplined at the plate,” Duran said. “They spat at the changeup. They spat at the curveball. They didn’t get fooled. They were able to sit there and get in good hitting counts.”
Beyer added a run in the seventh on a Jack Large double, but eventually fell short.
“It’s tough that it’s over,” Ackerman said. “High school is over now. We battled and it’s tough to leave all these guys behind.”
• Tokay 2, Atwater 1 in Stockton – The Falcons scored one unearned run in the first inning and that’s all they could scratch together against Tigers ace Alex Dentoni.
“(Dentoni) challenged and got ahead,” said Atwater coach Jarrod Pimentel, whose team ended its season with a 18-7 record. “He wasn’t an overpowering pitcher. He had a good changeup and a good curveball. We just didn’t do a good job against the first-pitch fastball tonight. We got in a hole.”
A dropped fly ball, a misplayed bunt and a sacrifice fly by Victor Tiscareno led to a 1-0 lead for Atwater in the first inning.
Nick Dentoni tied the game in the second inning with a solo homer. Jensen later added an RBI single later in the inning to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
“I’m so proud of these boys,” said Pimentel, whose team made the playoffs for the first time since 2001. “Our coaching staff couldn’t be more proud. I’m proud of where we’re going. We worked really hard to get here. We’ve never been here. To lose a 2-1 ballgame to a No. 1 seed, I tip my cap to our guys.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or email@example.com.