Oakdale’s varsity baseball team’s roller coaster season came to an abrupt halt on Monday, May 16. The eighth seeded Mustangs hosted the ninth seeded Pioneer in the first round of the 2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section DIII playoffs, and fell short 2-1.
Junior pitcher Michael Juarez started the game for the Mustangs on the hill, but the right handed hurler’s afternoon was cut short. Juarez, who won six games this season for the Mustangs, lasted just two-thirds of an innings after giving up back-to-back RBI doubles to have the Patriots go up 2-0.
“They got us early. Michael got us two quick outs, and then he got a little funky and they jumped on us. I had intentions of having a short hook today on my pitchers in hopes of getting through the bracket,” said head coach Nate Gregory. “It didn’t work out the way we hoped.”
Oakdale’s bullpen came into play, starting out with Tanner Emes, who entered the game and pitched four complete innings, giving up three hits and striking out four in relief of Juarez. Coming on in relief of Emes was USC bound Austin Manning, who led the Valley Oak League during the regular season with 87 strikeouts and finished third in wins with seven.
Oakdale got their first hit of the game in the bottom of the third on a hit to left field by Blake Whiting who reached second base after a bobble by the left fielder with one out. Oakdale’s next batter, senior Ben Solorio, hit the first of his three singles on the day deep to right field to score Whiting for Oakdale’s only run of the day. Solorio finished the day 3-for-4 with an RBI and also had two crowd pleasing web gems in the outfield.
“That’s baseball man, it doesn’t matter how good you’re feeling heading into the game, you can tally up runs in the pervious game, and fall flat or struggle to get runs across the next,” Solorio said of the playoff loss.
Oakdale tallied a total of seven hits and left three runners in scoring position including a bases loaded situation in the fifth inning.
“Emes did a great job in relief and kept us in the game. We had opportunities and left runners in scoring position and could not get the big hits today. That’s what it really amounted to today,” said Gregory.
The Mustangs finished the season in second place of the Valley Oak League with an overall record of 20-8 and 10-4 in league play. Oakdale showed their resiliency early in the season. After starting league play 0-3, Oakdale rattled off 10 straight league wins to make the playoffs.