April games in the 2013 Crown Classic baseball tournament hosted by Valley Christian High were like dependable tires — no blowouts.
A collection of 13 Central Coast and North Coast section teams played Oakdale and Oregon’s Crater across four days of action that seriously tested programs with a combined 135-91 record against spring opposition.
In all, 24 tournament games were decided by four or less runs. Four of them were played by Oakdale. The Mustangs dropped a 4-2 contest to Carmel on April 1, but bounced back to best Christopher 6-2 a day later. The Mustangs hung on to outlast Homestead 3-2 on April 3, but were unable to topple San Benito (14-3 overall, 7-1 Monterey Bay-Gabilan League), and fell 6-3 on April 4.
“It was a good tournament, and it is always good competition,” Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika said. “It helps gear us up and gives us a push towards the end of the season.”
Oakdale (10-7, 3-1 Valley Oak League) resumed conference action at Weston Ranch (2-11, 0-4) on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. The Mustangs host the Cougars on Thursday, April 11.
“We had a close game with Weston Ranch last year, so we are taking this one game at a time,” Arpoika said. “We just want to improve every week and get better as the season comes along.”
Carmel 4, Oakdale 2
Oakdale and Carmel landed eight knocks each, but the Mustangs couldn’t capitalize on three Padres errors. Nick Denning, Ericksen Dickens (double) and Sean Harrity each delivered two base hits while Bryce Dyrda and Eddie Machado had RBIs.
Taylor Leach allowed just two earned runs across 5.1 innings, but recorded the loss after three strikeouts and four walks allowed. Garret Bryhni gave up two runs in 1.2 innings of work and struck out two.
Oakdale 6, Christopher 2
Machado tossed a brilliant seven-inning gem with 14 strikeouts, one walk, four hits and no earned runs allowed. Oakdale’s 11-hit affair was led by the likes of Denning (double, two RBIs), Colt Parshall, Austin Dickens and Nik Garza (double), who managed two hits each. Nick Ippolito was 1 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored as well.
Oakdale 3, Homestead 2
Homestead is a program that sports a 5-3 record in the strong De Anza conference. The Cupertino program shares the same Mustang mascot as Oakdale, but couldn’t match Oakdale’s three-run spurt across the third and fourth innings.
Dyrda threw 5.2 innings to keep Homestead at bay (two earned runs, seven strikeouts, four hits), and set the table for a save by Ippolito (one hitless inning, two strikeouts). Hayden Rodriguez downed a batter via strikes in his brief appearance on the mound.
Parshall, Ippolito, Machado, Ericksen Dickens, Garza and Tanner Morgan recorded one hit each in the win.
San Benito 6, Oakdale 3
Oakdale trailed San Benito 4-3 after three and a half innings, but couldn’t get any closer. The Mustangs were outhit 10-8 and saw a rough outing by Ippolito (three innings, five earned runs, eight hits, four walks, three strikeouts). Rodriguez settled the Oakdale defense down with three spectacular innings with only three hits and two walks allowed (no earned runs, one strikeout).
Ericksen Dickens smashed two doubles and scored a run while Parshall (two hits, RBI), Bryhni, Harrity, Ippolito and Morgan (stolen base) all hit safely.