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Beat VOL Rival - Section Crown Goes To Baseball Mustangs
Oakdale baseball 8a
Without even time to loosen up in the bullpen, Russell Longworth was thrust into action on Monday night. He responded, throwing 77 pitches over three innings and picking up the win for Oakdale in the Section title game. - photo by Jonamar Jacinto/The Leader
It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a Sac-Joaquin Section championship nonetheless.
Oakdale High’s baseball team claimed its second straight Division IV title and fourth in five years Monday at Tony Zupo Field, using a nine-run, sixth-inning rally to beat Valley Oak League rival Manteca, 14-4.
File this one under the closer-than-the-score-indicates category.
The Mustangs (23-8), who split their regular season series with Manteca, walked 11 batters and committed four errors while nursing a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
How the team got it done Monday was how it got it done all season in a nutshell. It had to grind through some rough moments and even lost ace pitcher Brennon Williams to an arm injury with two outs in the top of the second inning.
“The kids worked hard and battled through it,” Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika said. “It’s kind of been our season (and) it hasn’t been an easy season — it’s been up and down, and we’ve had kids play through injuries all season.
“It had to be a team effort.”
And that it was.
Russell Longworth (2 for 3, two RBIs), Andy Morris and Lane Branch each hammered run-scoring doubles during Oakdale’s decisive, one-out rally in the sixth. Kody Simons capped it off with a single to the right-center gap, scoring Mark Ortiz to begin the celebration.
Ortiz set the tone all night from the leadoff spot, going 3 for 3 and plating four runs. He was also hit by a pitch and walked.
Matt Butler was 3 for 4 with five RBIs, two coming on a triple down the first base line that gave the Mustangs the lead for good in the fourth inning.
Butler’s heroics didn’t end there. In the top of the sixth, freshman Bryce Dyrda walked two batters with one out and was relieved by Butler.
It took just three pitches, all strikes, for Butler to get out of the jam, as he helped turn a 1-6-3 double play in what was the last of many momentum-changing plays on defense.
“I really didn’t want to throw that much,” Butler admitted while laughing. “It’s nerve-wracking, but then again it’s my favorite part of the game, when everything is on your shoulders to get something done.”
Oakdale had to sweat it out during some tense moments throughout, especially when Manteca had the bases loaded in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings.
In the second, catcher Branch threw out Manteca’s Michael Timmins at first base to keep the score tied at 2.
Longworth, Oakdale’s second of four pitchers, struck out the final batters in the third and fourth to keep three runners stranded in each inning.
And in the fifth, Dyrda picked off Gabe Rellamas at third base to maintain the lead at 5-4.
“The kids are just resilient,” Arpoika said. “They believed all the way through. When one guy goes down another guy steps up. When one guy makes a mistake, somebody picks him up. … It’s kind of been the way they’ve done things.”
Longworth was the winning pitcher, throwing 77 in three innings.
“I never got to warm up in the bullpen,” he said. “I went to go warm up and the next thing I know they’re telling me to get on the mound.
“But the coaches have been mentally preparing us all week, and I did a decent job, I thought, for not having any warm-ups.”
Manteca (20-10) also went to its bullpen early after starting pitcher Matt Burrows turned an ankle while scoring in the third inning. It was Burrows who threw an eight-inning three-hitter in a 6-1 win at Oakdale in VOL play April 21.
Manteca coach Gene Ballardo would not use the loss of his team leader as an excuse.
“They were just better than us today,” he said. “We came out, and I thought we fought hard — the effort was there.
“The sixth inning got away from us a little bit. I think that was pretty much the ballgame.”