OAKDALE — Justin Jones had just walked East Union High's light-hitting second baseman on four pitches, a mental error that allowed muscular catcher Wade Morten to come to the plate as the potential tying run.
But Oakdale's junior left-hander threw two quick strikes to Morten, second in the Stanislaus District with four home runs, before tossing a deceptive curve that Morten swung over the top of to end the inning.
"I knew I was going to the curve once I got two strikes," said Jones, whose escape in the third inning was one of two he made while firing a two-hitter to lead top-ranked large school Oakdale over EU 10-0 in a Valley Oak League showdown.
"The curve got him to commit too early, leaving him off balance," said Jones, who raised his record to 5-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.81.
An inning later, with the score still 3-0 and the Lancers again bringing the potential tying run to the plate, Jones got Garrett Fisher to hit a grounder that third baseman Justin Boyd scooped to start a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play.
The play sparked Oakdale (11-2, 3-0), as it scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth and blanked EU (5-6, 2-1) in the fifth for a 4½-inning win.
Jones contributed at the plate as well, clubbing a two-run double high off the right-field fence in the fourth. Eddie McGrath belted an RBI double off the center-field fence that made it 9-0, then Clayton Wagner beat out an infield single, and the late throw to first allowed McGrath to score for the 10-run lead.
Jones struck out seven, walked four and shut down EU's powerful tandem of Morten and Teddy Anderson. The duo went in having combined for 26 RBIs, eight homers, 15 extra-bases hits and a .412 average — but were hitless against Jones.
A year ago, Jones was third in the rotation behind two seniors who earned college scholarships. He began this season as the Mustangs' ace.
"He wanted to be the No. 1 guy last year, but he realized we had two special pitchers ahead of him," coach Hondo Arpoika said. "He came out this year ready for the top spot and any pressure that comes with it."