Buhach Colony High, as it has done much of the season, used its potent combination of hitting and pitching to clinch the Central California Conference baseball championship Tuesday.
Dylan Floro and Markus Melgosa combined for an eight-hitter, while Joe Medeiros homered and drove in two runs to lead the Thunder past rival Atwater 5-3 and into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
Atwater (8-18, 1-10) led 2-1 going into the bottom of the third, but the host Thunder (22-4, 9-2) — The Bee's No. 2-ranked large-school team — scored three runs to move ahead. Floro pitched into the seventh inning, before Melgosa came on to close the door.
BC opens the playoffs May 15 against the runner-up from the San Joaquin Athletic Association, while the CCC runner-up — Turlock or Golden Valley — faces the SJAA champ May 14.
TURLOCK 4, PITMAN 3, at Pitman — Vince Wheeland scattered six hits and minimized the damage from three bases-loaded situations, as the Bulldogs (13-12, 7-4 CCC) topped the rival Pride (17-9, 5-6) to stay in the playoff race. Turlock is battling Golden Valley for the No. 2 berth behind champion Buhach Colony.
Pitman loaded the bases in the first, sixth and seventh innings, but managed a total of two runs in the three innings. The Pride had the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, but Wheeland struck out the side — and the final out of the game was when a Pitman batter lined out to right.
ESCALON 7, RIPON 3, at Escalon — Jimmy Zepeda and two relievers combined on a six-hitter and the Cougars (19-6, 10-4 Trans-Valley League) used a five-run second to beat the Indians (10-9, 7-7) and clinch a playoff berth. Escalon, Hughson and Ripon Christian will advance to next week's Division V playoffs, but the seeding won't be decided until Thursday.
Zepeda went five innings for the Cougars, while Nick Largent and Leighton Pangilinan finished off the game.
HUGHSON 15, RIVERBANK 4, at Riverbank — Caleb Lemmings clubbed a two-run homer during a six-run third as the No. 3 small-school Huskies (17-8, 11-3 TVL) clinched the championship by beating the Bruins (1-21, 0-14). Hughson is being chased by Escalon (10-4) and Ripon Christian (9-4), but can clinch the league's top playoff berth by beating the Bruins again Thursday.
Aaron Stice went 4 for 6 and scored three runs for the Huskies, who scored 13 runs in the third through fifth innings for a 13-3 lead, while Archie Quay pitched five strong innings for the win.
CALAVERAS 2, BRET HARTE 0, at San Andreas — Steve Frater fired a three-hitter, striking out six and walking one, and Shayne Brown was 2 for 2 with both RBIs as the Redskins (15-7, 11-3 Mother Lode League) handed the No. 2 small-school Bullfrogs (19-5, 13-1) their first league loss.
HILMAR 2, PATTERSON 1, at Patterson — Courtney Ramos fired an 11-inning one-hitter, striking out a career-high 22, and Ashlee Lee's sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th lifted the No. 3 small-school Yellowjackets (16-5, 10-3 Western Athletic Conference) over the Tigers (13-13, 8-6), clinching the No. 2 playoff berth. Hilmar opens the Division V playoffs against the Mother Lode League runner-up, Tuesday at Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton.
After nine scoreless innings, each team scored in the 10th — after the international tiebreaker put a runner on second base to start each half inning. In the bottom of the 11th, Kayla Sousa reached third base with one out before Ramos got a strikeout and a groundout to end it. Patterson's Mandy Sifuentes tossed a three-hitter with 15 strikeouts.
"It was a pretty intense game," Hilmar coach Paul Willis said. "It was too bad one team had to lose. It could have went either way, but Courtney has been doing that for us all year. Every time she goes on the mound we have a chance to win."
ORESTIMBA 13, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 2, at Modesto — Kara Spinelli dominated the game, allowing just three hits, and the top-ranked small-school Warriors (22-3, 13-0 WAC) pounded out 14 hits and capitalized on six errors to rout the Raiders (10-14, 4-10).
HUGHSON 9, RIVERBANK 3, at Hughson — Katie Etcheverry drove in two runs and Aly Hoffman scattered nine hits as the Huskies (14-6-2, 10-3 TVL) stayed in the race for the title by beating the Bruins (7-11, 5-8). Hughson visits first-place Modesto Christian (11-2) today and MC visits second-place Escalon (10-3) on Friday — all three are guaranteed Division V playoff berths.
DOWNEY 4, BEYER 3, at Beyer — Julie Jasso's double to right field drove in Rachel DeJong in the top of the ninth, then DeJong (10 strikeouts) worked out of a jam in the bottom of the inning to preserve the Knights' (10-10, 7-7 Modesto Metro Conference) win over the Patriots (14-8, 9-5). DeJong singled to open the ninth, and after a two-out walk to Jordan Flora, Jasso delivered — though left fielder Kayla Smith threw out Flora at the plate to end the inning.
A two-run double by Beyer's Melaina Saalfeld's in the sixth brought the Patriots to within 3-2, then she scored from third on Jasmine Aguilar's two-out bunt single. Saalfeld was 4 for 5 with two doubles, but the Patriots could manage to score in just the one inning.
MODESTO 3, JOHANSEN 0, at Modesto — Amanda Pridmore fired a one-hitter, while Liz Pierce homered and drove in both runs as the Panthers (8-15, 6-8 MMC) topped the Vikings (12-13, 5-9). Pridmore struck out 13 and walked four.
TURLOCK CHR. 6, MARIPOSA 5, at Mariposa — Kara Gabrielson drove in five runs as the Eagles (7-16, 4-10 Southern League) upset the Grizzlies (9-15, 7-7), who fell short after scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh.