NEWMAN -- Ben Griset is only a sophomore, but he's pitching beyond his years -- and Gustine High is battling for a playoff berth because of it.
Griset struck out 18 on Friday, on the heels of his 16-strikeout game last week, as the Redskins beat Orestimba 9-6 to earn a share of second place in the Western Athletic Conference.
Gustine (13-8, 8-5) is tied with Hilmar (14-8, 8-5) for second -- and the conference's final playoff berth. Gustine holds the tiebreaker over Hilmar and has two games with Livingston next week, while Hilmar is playing Patterson. Central Catholic beat Hilmar on Friday and has already clinched the league title.
"He had good movement on his fastball, which allowed him to surprise hitters with his curve," said Gustine coach Manuel Bettencourt of Griset. "A lot of kids were out in front of his curve."
Clint Manzo homered and David Olson's two-run double in the fifth put Gustine in charge.
After Olson doubled in two runs, giving Gustine an 8-4 lead, he scored on Justin Zalinski's single.
CENTRAL CATHOLIC 8, HILMAR 2, at Hilmar -- Freshman sensation Billy Flamion homered and knocked in two runs, while Clay Depauw hurled a four-hitter, as the top-ranked small-school Raiders (10-4, 13-0) topped the Yellowjackets (14-8, 8-5). Flamion also shut down a potential Hilmar threat in the first with a diving catch in center field.
Valley Oak League
OAKDALE 8, MANTECA 3, at Manteca -- Justin Boyd homered and Clayton Wagner was 3 for 3, leading a nine-hit attack as the top-ranked large-school Mustangs (19-3, 11-1) topped the Buffaloes (13-11, 7-5) -- leaving the Buffaloes, East Union and Sierra tied for second place. Oakdale held a 3-1 lead before scoring five runs in the top of the seventh -- an outburst that proved important when Manteca scored twice in the bottom of the inning.
Nick Vandertuig (4-1) scattered six hits.
CERES 12, EAST UNION 2, at Manteca -- Jonathan Alonzo hurled a five-inning three-hitter and homered, as the Bulldogs (9-14, 5-7) stunned the Lancers (10-10, 7-5). Robert Cope also homered for the Bulldogs, who scored in every inning while pounding out 10 hits.
EU faces Sierra in a two-game set next week, while Manteca plays last-place Weston Ranch twice.
SIERRA 15, CENTRAL VALLEY 10, at Sierra -- Jon Nunes was 5 for 5 with a homer for the Timberwolves (15-9, 7-5), who were behind 9-0 at one point and erased a 9-7 deficit with an eight-run sixth. Cameron Maye homered for the Hawks (10-14, 5-7).
Modesto Metro Conference
BEYER 9, DOWNEY 1, at Beyer -- Dom Rossi (7-0) and Ryan Fahey combined on a three-hitter and Vince Roberts knocked in five runs as the No. 3 large-school Patriots (18-7, 12-1) beat the Knights (4-19, 2-11). Roberts had two-run singles in the first and second, helping Beyer to a 7-0 lead, and No. 8 hitter Logan Hampton hit a two-run homer in the five-run second.
Beyer shortstop Joey Roy was 2 for 3, raising his average to .425, and had his school-record 27th stolen base. Roy has been caught stealing just once this season and is 50 for 53 in his career.
DAVIS 5, ENOCHS 2, at Davis -- Michael Creamer (5-1) scattered six hits and lined a three-run single as the No. 4 large-school Spartans (19-5, 10-3) beat the Eagles (9-16, 4-9) to set up next week's showdown with first-place Beyer (12-1). Both teams are assured playoff berths, and Davis needs to sweep the two-game set with Beyer to earn a share of the title and the top playoff seed.
Creamer threw only 66 pitches, "getting a lot of first- and second-pitch groundouts," Davis coach Kevin Ruiz said. "The best pitch in baseball is a first-pitch strike. He did a good job changing speeds, and had them hitting it off the end of the bat or right on the hands."
Creamer's bases-loaded single shot through the left side of the infield and, while the left fielder was chasing it down, pinch runner Gabe Crudo sprinted around from first for a 4-0 lead.
JOHANSEN 8, MODESTO 3, at Modesto -- Tyler Love was potent on the mound and at the plate, tossing a five-hitter while going 3 for 4 with four RBIs, as the Vikings (11-14, 7-6) beat the Panthers (6-18, 4-9). Love struck out five and walked one, and needed only 81 pitches.
MARIPOSA 9, WATERFORD 0, at Waterford -- Freshman Jaret Leonard fired a two-hitter, striking out 12, and Anthony Nady homered as the No. 5 small-school Grizzlies (18-5, 12-1) clinched the outright league championship by blanking the Wildcats (9-13, 6-7). Waterford is in a four-way race with Denair, Le Grand and Turlock Christian for the league's final two playoffs berths.
TURLOCK CHR. 10, DENAIR 8, at Denair -- Eli Davis homered, scored three runs and drove in three -- and picked up the victory in relief -- as the Eagles (12-9, 6-7) upset the Coyotes (12-8, 7-6) to keep the league race tight. Denair's Perry French pitched five strong innings, but TC broke loose for six runs and a 10-8 lead in the sixth.