The end of the preseason came to a dramatic close on Tuesday, March 14 for the varsity Mustang diamondmen.
Oakdale defeated visiting Pitman 1-0 in a wild nine inning game that ended on an overthrow at third base that led to Mustang Nick Moore scoring the winning run.
“We were running the squeeze play, but it did not go the way we planned,” admitted Moore, a senior utility player. “Luckily the catcher overthrew the ball allowing me to score.”
Through the first seven innings it was a mix of great pitching and big defensive plays by both teams. For Oakdale, pitcher Tyler Hall started the game and struck out five Pitman batters while issuing no walks. Hall had help from both his infielders and outfielders as they came up with some web gems and key outs. In the top of the seventh inning with two outs and a runner on third, Pitman’s Omar Onate slapped a line drive between first and second base, but Oakdale’s second baseman Michael Juarez lunged his way to the ball and came up with the spectacular grab to end the inning.
“My defense made big plays. Michael’s seventh inning play energized us and lifted us to victory,” Hall said of his teammate.
In the ninth inning, Moore entered the batter’s box to lead off the bottom half of the frame, still locked in a 0-0 tie. For the second time in the game, Pitman pitcher Jack Wheeland hit Moore in the helmet on the first pitch.
“I’m not sure why he targeted me. He hit me last week in the tournament as well,” Moore said of the frequency of being hit by Wheeland.
With no outs and Moore on first, Cullen Bearden hammered a long single to left field, setting up a runner in scoring position. Two batters later, with one out and the bases loaded, relief pitcher Dakota McNeil stepped into the batter’s box. His attempt on the squeeze bunt did not travel far but the Pitman catcher bobbled the ball and forced a pickle with Moore who attempted to come home from third. The catcher then overthrew third base, allowing Moore to score, ending the game.
“After playing nine long innings, it’s an amazing feeling. Both teams played well, and played clean. Our pitchers played well, their pitchers played well. It was just one of those games where a mistake ended it,” Moore said moments after being greeted by his teammates at home plate.
The Mustangs finished the preseason with a 7-1 record and open Valley Oak League play against Manteca. Oakdale went to Manteca to face the defending Section champions yesterday, Tuesday, March 21 after The Leader went to press. Oakdale will host Manteca on Thursday, March 23 with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.
Oakdale’s junior varsity team finished the preseason with a 6-2 record following their 6-3 home win over Pitman on Tuesday, March 14. Oakdale scored four runs in the third inning. Sophomore Max Moore had a bases clearing double for Oakdale, driving in three runs.
The youngest of the Mustangs defeated Pitman 4-3 on the road Tuesday, March 14. Jaiden Williams and Brett Maddock pitched in the contest and finished with a combined eight strikeouts. Austin Meeks, Dom McDonald and Brett Maddock each had a multi-hit game in the win.