STOCKTON -- Blake Barber is the leading hitter for the Beyer High baseball team.
On Sunday, the senior second baseman did some off-the-field hitting when he injured his right (throwing) hand while "punching an entertainment center" in an off-the-field incident. Even just before Wednesday afternoon's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I first-round playoff game against West of Tracy, Barber wasn't sure if he would play.
It's a good thing he did.
Barber lined a two-run home run in the first inning, jump-starting the Patriots' offense in a 12-2 five-inning victory over the Wolfpack at UOP's Klein Family Field.
The Patriots (21-7) next play Golden Valley, an 8-5 winner over Tracy in a second-round game Monday at Klein Family Field at 4 p.m. The season is over for the Wolfpack (18-10).
"Blake's our team leader," Beyer co-coach Steve Clark said. "When everybody saw he was going to play, they rallied around him."
It was as close to gametime as they could have gotten. He swung a waffle bat just before the game, pronouncing himself ready to play.
He batted third in the lineup and, with Josh Young on first base, launched a line drive over the left-field fence that gave the Patriots a 2-0 lead.
"I felt like I hit it one-handed," he said. "But I definitely got all of it."
Patriots starter Kyle Barrett went the distance, striking out nine. He didn't allow a run until the fourth. And by then, the game was virtually over.
That's because Beyer struck for six runs in the third inning, the big blow Mason Ankeney's bases-loaded double to the wall in left-center field.
"Their pitcher (Ryan Devencenzi) threw me all curveballs in the first inning," Ankeney said. "But this time, I got ahead in the count and waited on a fastball."
The Patriots ended it in the fifth, closing out the game when Barrett lined a bases-loaded single off the arm of West reliever Matt Fontaine. As Fontaine crumpled to the turf near the mound, two Patriots runner scored to make it 12-2, ending the game due to the 10-run mercy rule.
"Suicide Saturday, or Wednesday this year, is a very stressful day," Clark said. "To get it done that quick and easy is very nice. It's always nice to move on."