On a night when the baseball found the body about as often as it found the open spaces of Klein Family Field, Pitman was bruised, beaten but not bounced from the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South tournament.
The fifth-seeded Pride, however, are down to their final out after absorbing a 14-4 loss to top-seeded Tracy on Monday evening at the University of the Pacific’s Klein Family Field.
“That was definitely the worst outing of our season,” Pitman coach Jon Acha said. “Even when we were losing games early in the season, we were losing 3-1 and 4-2 ball games. This was definitely our worst outing, but we learn from it and jump back on it. We play tomorrow, so there’s no time to think about it.”
Pitman (19-10) will play No. 3 St. Mary’s (18-10) at 4 o’clock under crystal-clear terms: The winner remains in the hunt for a Sac-Joaquin Section title, while the loser shuts the door on the 2017 season.
The Rams were beaten by No. 2 Gregori (28-1), 4-1, in Monday’s afternoon game. St. Mary’s has won four D-I titles and represented the South in eight of the last 10 finals, including seven straight at one point.
To have any chance, the Pride will have to move past Monday’s house of horrors. Pitman committed three errors, hit four batters and gave up more than 10 runs for the first time all season.
“We tried to scratch and claw back, but with the defense and the pitching, we shot ourselves in the foot again,” Acha said. “It’s a new team tomorrow.”
And to think, it all started so perfectly for the Pride. The Central California Conference co-champions jumped on Tracy starter Lee Brewer in the first inning.
Anthony Encalade doubled into the gap in left-center field, scoring lead off hitter Mac Cabrero, and then scored on an error at third.
Tracy (23-4), which has trailed in eight of its nine postseason games, erased the deficit with eight unanswered runs. A six-run fourth inning induced the mercy rule.
Clayton Borges drove in six runs for the Tri-City Athletic League champions and reigning Division I finalists. He had a two-run triple to highlight a three-run second inning, swatted a two-run single in a four-run fourth, and then capped a five-run fifth with another two-run single.
Josh Alvarado also had a two-run single for the Bulldogs, who chased Pitman starter Jack Wheeland in the third inning. After opening the postseason with a complete-game one-hitter, Wheeland struggled with his control.
He was lifted in favor of left-handler M.J. Duarte after burying a pitch into Evan Hoyt’s back. Three batters later, Alvarado, who was also plunked by Wheeland, singled to make it 6-2.
“They're aggressive already. If you give them a slip-up, their energy level goes way up,” Acha said. “The only way to silence that is with solid ‘D’ and solid pitching.”
The game featured an unusual number of mistakes and goofy moments. The teams committed six errors, plunked six batters, and there was one wild pitch.
Brandon Pacheco drove in a run for Pitman, which scratched out its final two runs in the fourth inning. Brett Hagen also scored a run, sprinting home on Cole Carrigg’s ground out.
Pitman will put its season in Hagens’ hand. He pitched the Pride past Bear Creek last week.
“He’s a strike thrower,” Acha said. “If you beat us, you’ll beat us with the sticks. You’re not going to beat us with errors. You’re not going to beat us with walks or hit batters.”