With direct sunlight now absent from the immaculate baseball diamond at John Thurman field on June 8, ninth-inning temperatures dipped from their previous 110-degree mark to a welcoming 85 degrees.
But with the tying run waiting in the batter’s box and two runners breathing down his neck, Oakdale senior Nick Ippolito was just heating up.
The section champion shortstop, relief pitcher and occasional starter delivered a nasty curve to force the last batter to send a lazy out to right field and record the game-winning out of the 2013 Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic all-star game.
Ippolito recorded the save after one shutout inning, effectively quelling a West rebellion as the East rallied to a 5-2 win that evened up a 14-14-1 series deadlock since the inaugural game in 1990.
It was hardly the pressure of a section title game, but Ippolito enjoyed the spotlight nonetheless.
“I just wanted to hit my spots, throw strikes,” Ippolito said. “It was just fun to come out here and play baseball.
“I pitched relief for Oakdale for most of the year, so I was happy to be able to come out here and close it.”
And while Ippolito ended things, his senior teammate, Nik Garza, started things off.
Garza hustled to first to force a third-inning error, then traversed the base paths for the first run of the game amidst a three-score inning for the East.
“It’s an all-star game, so it feels good to score the first run,” Garza said afterwards. “It was great to play my last game with my teammates.”
Eddie Machado struck out four hitters in two shutout innings and also played first base. Mustang slugger Ericksen Dickens also made an appearance at first and landed two at-bats. He scooped up a few key outs to preserve the lead, including a few from Ippolito (shortstop at the time).
Beyer’s Josh Chamberlain was named the outstanding player of game after doubling home two runs in the sixth inning.