The baseball community gathered for the annual Mark Dickens Invitational Tournament in honor of former coach, the late Mark Dickens. Eight teams from the local area participated in the three-day varsity event. Oakdale went 1-2 in their three games, winning in their final game 8-3 over Tokay on Wednesday, April 19.
Oakdale (16-4, 8-0) opened the tournament on Monday, April 17 against Turlock (10-5, 3-0) and fell 2-0 to the Bulldogs. Hits were hard to come by for both teams in the pitcher’s duel as Turlock got four hits in the win and Oakdale’s Dane Gibson and Bryce Kirk accounted for the Mustang hits.
“We saw a good pitcher. He had great control of his two-seamer and we had no answer for that,” Mustangs coach Nate Gregory said of Bulldogs pitcher Dallin Tilby.
Tuesday’s action was postponed to Wednesday due to rain, where Oakdale first faced off with Beyer (12-9, 9-3). The Patriots stunned the Mustangs on a two run home run in the seventh inning to win 7-6. In the loss, Nick Moore delivered a two-RBI single, and Cullen Bearden just missed the cycle, going 3-for4 at the plate with a single, a double and a triple for Oakdale. Senior Bryce Kirk delivered a solo home run, his third of the season. The Mustangs found themselves in a 5-1 hole in the third inning but took a 6-5 lead in the sixth. On the mound for Oakdale was Blake Whiting, who struck out eight batters.
“We got in an early hole, but battled back and actually took the lead late. This team is resilient and has carried themselves well this season,” Gregory said of the difficult loss.
Later that afternoon, Oakdale capped off the tournament on a high note, beating Tokay (6-11, 0-6) by an 8-3 final. Up 4-3 in the fifth inning, junior Dane Gibson got the home crowd excited with a two-out bottom of the fifth inning grand slam. With a count of one ball and two strikes, Gibson took the Tigers pitcher deep to left center field for his first ever home run to give Oakdale an 8-3 advantage.
“I just wanted to bring in some of the runners, I didn’t think I was going to go yard though. I was thinking a shot in the gap to bring in two runs would be nice, but when it cleared the fence it felt good,” said Gibson, who was raucously greeted at home plate by his teammates following the monster shot.
The Mustangs returned to Valley Oak League play on Tuesday, April 25 on the road against second place Sierra (10-6, 5-2). The game was held following The Leader’s press time. Oakdale will host Sierra on Thursday, April 27 with a start time scheduled for 4 p.m.
“We need to stay focused and take care of business against Sierra. They want to beat us, dethrone us from first place and we need to continue to play great baseball to stay on top of the league,” pitcher and third baseman Tyler Hall said.