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Mustangs Continue Strong Push To Postseason
With fierce clouds looming overhead, OHS pitcher Austin Manning delivered the boom from the mound. Shown is Manning keeping an eye on the Sierra runner as OHS first baseman Michael Juarez is ready for the pickoff play. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

As the end of the 2016 season rapidly approaches, the Oakdale Mustangs varsity baseball team find themselves in contention for the Valley Oak League championship. This past week the Mustangs (16-6, 7-3) extended their winning streak to seven after taking a pair from Sierra (10-9, 4-6). Oakdale is currently sitting in second place in the VOL following their 6-0 and 11-7 victories over the Wolves.

The Mustangs shut out the Wolves on Wednesday, April 27 to begin the home-and-home series against their league foes. Not even the rainstorm that hit town at midafternoon, causing a 15-minute delay at the start of the game, could slow down senior southpaw Austin Manning as he earned his sixth win of the season after pitching a complete game for the Mustangs. In the shutout victory, Manning went seven complete innings, striking out 10, walking a pair and surrendering four hits on the afternoon.

“Our bench players stepped up big time getting the field ready for us during the delay. Without them we (the starters) would not have been dialed in and we would not have gotten the win today without them,” Manning praised of his teammates.

Oakdale’s bats made an early statement, scoring four runs in the second inning, led by senior left fielder Cullen Bearden’s RBI double. Bearden went 1-for-3 in the game with an RBI. Up 4-0 in the third inning, Oakdale second baseman Logan Hall expanded the lead with one giant swing of the bat as he hit his second home run of the season clearing the right field wall, giving Oakdale a 5-0 advantage.

“I was ahead in the count 2-0, so I just waited for my pitch and got it,” Hall said of his third inning blast. He currently is tied with three others in the league for second most home runs this season along with teammate Bryce Kirk. The speedy second baseman does lead the league in stolen bases with 18.

The Mustangs scored their final run of the game on a Sean Gingerich RBI double to score Manning from second base, following the pitcher’s double. Gingerich went 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI in the winning effort. Gingerich leads the VOL in batting average at .507 and is fifth in slugging percentage with .616.

On the road Friday, Gingerich continued to swing the bat well as the senior went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Also having two RBI were Logan Hall and junior Nick Moore in the team’s 11-7 win. Junior Vito Rodin came in as a reliever and pitched five-and-a-third strong innings to get the win. Rodin gave up two hits while striking out a pair in the win.

With four games remaining on the schedule, Oakdale gets ready for a crucial series with the Central Catholic Raiders (13-9, 7-3). The two teams have identical league records and begin their home-and-home series on Wednesday, May 4 at Oakdale. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. The Mustangs and Raiders wrap up the week in Modesto on Friday, May 6 with first pitch also scheduled for 4 p.m. Oakdale closes out the league season against Kimball in a two game series. Oakdale travels to Tracy on Monday, May 9 to take on the Jags (12-9, 3-7) before the season finale on Wednesday, May 11 at Oakdale for Senior Night 2016.