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Baseball Mustangs Can Qualify For Division IV Finals Today
8-23 OAK Baseball3
A big dive from Stefan Aguilar is just shy of this foul ball during Oakdales 5-1 win over River City on May 17. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

The jeers and cheers emitting from the Oakdale High dugout should reach a whole new chatter level today, May 23, as the Mustangs play Vista del Lago for a shot at the Sac-Joaquin Section finals at 4 p.m. at Lodi’s Tony Zupo Field.

A win guarantees Oakdale a third straight trip to the Division IV finale, where the Mustangs can vie for their fifth blue banner in six seasons. A loss forces Oakdale to play the series ‘if’ game immediately after, since Oakdale beat Vista to start the ‘best two-out-three’ semifinals on Saturday. The winner of the series gets Sonora or El Dorado (Sonora won the first game) in a winner-takes-all championship game on Memorial Day, May 28.

“We just have to keep doing what we have been doing, getting better every day,” Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika said. “We have to take advantage of their mistakes and minimize ours.”

Oakdale built upon an undefeated league stanza and raised their overall mark to 25-4 after a 5-1 win over River City on May 17 to start the playoffs and a 4-2 victory over Vista del Lago to start the semifinals two days later.

The Mustangs started the postseason on the momentum of a dazzling start from Logan Handzlik, who tossed seven full innings with no earned runs surrendered, four strikeouts and three hits allowed.

Spencer Thomas doubled to score Justin Martin and break open a 0-0 tie in the third inning, and watched Nik Garza single to score Stefan Aguilar (double) just an inning later. Kody Simons singled to knock in a run and Andy Morris got on with an infield error that allowed a run to score. Simons scored on a base knock from Lane Branch later in the sixth inning, and Handzlik downed three of his next four hitters to end the game.

On May 19, Oakdale pushed past Vista after three costly errors from the Eagles and a two-run lead after three innings that stuck. Morris went all seven innings with five hits allowed. Four came in a rough second inning where Vista scored both of their runs. He ended with nine strikeouts, and also batted 2 for 3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Aguilar doubled while leadoff man Mark Ortiz reached first twice and stole two bases with two runs scored.

“They are a solid team and coached very well,” Arpoika said of VDL. “It was a good match-up.”

Vista will potentially turn to sophomore Michael Majeski (3-3, 44 innings, 2.23 ERA) and senior Andrew Lucio (4-2, 37.1 innings, 3.19 ERA) against Oakdale today. The pair tossed less than four innings each and combined to allow just four runs as Vista upset Western Athletic Conference champion, Central Catholic, to start the playoffs.

Oakdale will likely start reliever Eddie Machado today. Machado (3-1) sports a 1.75 ERA across 32 innings. He has allowed just one earned run and eight hits in his last four appearances (15 innings).