“Just keep fighting” – that was the message from Oakdale varsity baseball head coach Nate Gregory to his ball club before the game began. After dropping three straight Valley Oak League (VOL) games to start the season, the varsity Mustangs have now won three straight to get back into the hunt. This past week Oakdale swept the Lathrop Spartans in a home-and-home series, bringing the Mustangs league record back to 3-3. Oakdale (12-6, 3-3) outscored the Spartans (4-8-1, 1-5) 19-1 in the two game series to springboard the Mustangs to third place in the current VOL standings.
The team took the home field on Wednesday, April 13 with southpaw Austin Manning on the mound for Oakdale. The senior lefty was lights out in the team’s 8-0 victory. Manning went six strong innings serving up nine strikeouts, three walks and gave up three hits. Manning is currently the league leader in strikeouts with 49. Manning’s strong pitching performance sparked the Mustangs offense as the team belted out eight hits on the day.
Up 2-0 heading into the sixth inning, Oakdale’s bats erupted for six runs on five hits. Following a leadoff double by Bryce Kirk, Tyler Hall hit an RBI double to expand the Mustangs lead to 3-0. Logan Hall then stepped into the batter’s box and sent the ball into orbit over the right field wall for a two run home run to give Oakdale a 5-0 advantage.
“I was just trying to get the next man up, keep thing going for us,” said senior centerfielder Hall after his blast. Hall leads the league in stolen bases with 16 after swiping second earlier in the game. The Mustangs went on to add three more runs in the inning on an error, a two-RBI double by Blake Whiting and an RBI double by Manning with two outs to make it 8-0.
“They did a good job today. The strike zone was pretty liberal, on both sides really, and both pitchers did a great job today,” Gregory said of the pitching duel.
Oakdale’s momentum carried over to Lathrop on Friday afternoon with an 11-1 road win. The team’s bats continued to give the Spartans fits as Oakdale tallied 18 hits in the road win. Senior Ben Solorio went 3-for-5 in the game racking up two RBI in the win. Also having multi-hit games were Blake Whiting, 3-for-4 with an RBI; Sean Gingerich 3-for-4 with an RBI; Tyler Hall 3-for-4 with two RBI and a triple; and Austin Manning went 2-for-4. On the hill, junior Michael Juarez earned the win with six innings of work, giving up two hits and recording five strikeouts. Gingerich leads the league in batting average at .524 on the season. This was Juarez’s fifth win on the season and he is currently tied for the most wins in the league.
Oakdale looks to keep this momentum rolling as they begin a home-and-home stand against Weston Ranch (13-5, 2-4). The Cougars host Wednesday, April 20 with Oakdale returning home Friday, April 22. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Like the varsity boys, Oakdale’s junior varsity bats came alive and did not cool off. The team outscored the Spartans 27-10 in the two-game series. Oakdale defended the home field with a convincing 12-3 win on Wednesday, April 13 and went to Lathrop and put on a hitting clinic in the team’s 15-7 road win. Dane Gibson’s 3-for-4 home performance helped lift the Mustangs as the sophomore led the team in hits and racked up a team-high four RBI on the day. Kyle Seese also had a big day at the plate having three RBI on the day. Oakdale improved to 5-1 in league play with the two wins this week.