LIVINGSTON -- Gustine High has had its athletic struggles in recent years, playing in the Western Athletic Conference against private-school power Central Catholic and public schools with significantly larger enrollments.
That was all forgotten, though, Thursday as David Olson struck out 10 and Gustine beat Livingston 8-3 to clinch a Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff berth.
The Redskins (15-8, 10-5 WAC) were in the playoffs in 2004, coach Manuel Bettencourt said, but the significance of this year's trip extends beyond the baseball team and through the school's athletic program.
"It's a very positive sign for Gustine High School, because it shows our kids are working hard to improve," said Bettencourt, whose team has won five games in a row. "It's a big deal in a small community like ours. We're hoping that something like this will carry into next school year and we can start with a strong fall season."
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Jovany Romero and Tommy Sanfilippo each had two hits and two RBIs, as Gustine led 6-1 after four innings. Olson scattered six hits and was "hitting his spots and throwing his curve for a strike," Bettencourt said.
Gustine faces Mother Lode League runner-up Calaveras at 4 p.m. in Wednesday's single-elimination opener at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi. MLL third-place finisher Linden faces Trans-Valley League champion Hughson at 7. In Tuesday's first-round games, defending section champ Central Catholic faces the TVL runner-up (Escalon or Ripon Christian) at 4 and MLL champion Bret Harte plays the TVL's No. 3 (Escalon or Ripon Christian) at 7.
CENTRAL CATHOLIC 12, ORESTIMBA 2, at Modesto -- Ryan Tiscareno homered and drove in four runs, and reliever Justin Prasaid struck out five of the six batters he faced to earn the victory, as the top-ranked small-school Raiders (22-4, 15-0 WAC) topped the Warriors.
Central, which rose to No. 1 Thursday in the CalHiSports.com state Division IV rankings, led 10-2 after three innings. Walter Claudio walked to open the bottom of the first and Tiscareno followed with his homer to get the Raiders rolling. Clay DePauw's RBI triple in the bottom of the fifth ended the game.
EAST UNION 11, SIERRA 10 (8 innings), at East Union -- The Lancers (11-10, 8-5 VOL) had nine doubles among their 14 hits, but it was a grounder to first that scored the winning run in the eighth.
Ryan Dawson drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on John Campa's bunt. Trae Lopez beat out a slow grounder to first, and with the first baseman hesitating and the catcher wandering away from the plate, Dawson made the turn at third and raced home.
East Union and the Timberwolves (15-10, 7-6) meet again today facing several playoff possibilities. VOL champ Oakdale and runner-up Manteca are guaranteed berths, with East Union and Sierra battling for the third and final spot.
CALAVERAS 5, BRET HARTE 2, at Angels Camp -- Brooks Hulett and Aaron Gillis combined on a four-hitter as the Redskins (16-7, 12-3) beat the Mother Lode League champion Bullfrogs (19-6, 13-2) for the second time this week. Jeff Dill drove in two runs for the Redskins, who went ahead for good at 2-1 with a run in the top of the third.
DIVISION II, at Yuba City -- It was a rough day for Manteca High, as its two singles players and doubles team fell in the first round of the section tournament. Mostafa Aniss won his first set 7-6, but Ponderosa's Tyler Valencia rallied to win the next two 6-4, 7-6, while younger brother Yassen Aniss lost in straight sets. The Buffs' duo of David Shaefer and Joey Aprile also won their first set 4-6, before dropping the final two 6-4, 7-6.