Two strong pitching performances and a great show of sportsmanship from Turlock coach Mark de la Motte were on display Wednesday afternoon as the Bulldogs edged Atwater 2-1 at Memorial Ballpark.
Turlock left-hander Blake Cederlind and the Falcons’ Quinn Heckman hooked up in a pitching duel. The Bulldogs were able to score two first-inning runs on a home run by Brett Cumberland to lead off the game and two-out single by Nick Benson.
The two runs was all Cederlind needed as he pitched into the seventh inning before giving way to Marcos Lopez, who recorded the final two outs for the save.
However, what everybody will be talking about was de la Motte’s show of character in the seventh inning.
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With Turlock leading by just one run, the Bulldogs’ John Temple launched a ball deep to left field. The ball appeared to hit one of the wooden signs displaying a retired Atwater jersey number on the outfield fence. Temple saw it that way as he stopped on second base with a double.
The umpires quickly huddled and ruled the ball bounced off the metal scoreboard beyond the left-field fence and bounced back in play, awarding Temple with a home run.
Atwater coach Jarrod Pimentel quickly came out of the dugout to argue the call, but it wasn’t until de la Motte told the umpires he heard the ball hit wood and he could see from the third base coaching box that the ball didn’t clear the fence, that the umpires changed the call back to a double.
De la Motte didn’t want to bring attention to himself.
“The ball hit the fence,” de la Motte said. “Everyone knew it but the home plate umpire. He made the the right call. Let’s leave it at that.”
Added Pimentel: “That’s the classiest move I’ve seen in my life. Especially when they were only ahead 2-1 at the time. He didn’t want to win that way.”
The Bulldogs struggled against Heckman, who had made just two appearances this season for Atwater, logging a total of one inning on the mound. Heckman got the start with Falcons ace Ryan Sanchez out with an injured hamstring.
“Quinn has been in a middle relief role for us this year, but with Ryan’s injury he knew he was going to have to step up,” Pimentel said. “He worked hard in the offseason to get ready for this and he gave us more than we could have asked from him.”
Heckman overcame the rocky first inning to give up just two hits and no runs the final six innings.
The problem for the Falcons was they couldn’t solve Cederlind.
The senior gave up just five hits before leaving with one out in the seventh inning. Cederlind struck out four and walked just one.
“My two-seam fastball was working,” Cederlind said. “My curveball was on. I really didn’t have a changeup, but I just worked with what I had. I wanted to finish it pretty bad. I was pretty bummed when coach took me out, but I’m glad we got the win.”
The Falcons had at least one runner on base in each of the final five innings but couldn’t push across another run. Atwater had runners on third and second with two outs in the seventh, but Turlock reliever Marcus Lopez was able record a strikeout for the final out to pick up a save.