With six games left on the Valley Oak League schedule, a championship is hardly a guarantee for Oakdale High’s varsity baseball team.
But it’s apparent the rest of the conference is only really vying for second place.
Oakdale (8-0) had three more wins than any other league team as of Monday, and can clinch a league title even if they split games with Sonora (5-2) and Manteca (5-3) over the next two weeks.
Oakdale’s stellar pitching depth and hitting prowess was on display on April 18 and 20 during a one-sided series sweep of playoff hopeful, Sierra. With sophomore pitching standout Bryce Dyrda still nursing an injury, Oakdale sent Logan Handzlik and Eddie Machado to the hill for a pair of complete game victories that didn’t even require fellow ace Andy Morris.
Handzlik (7-1, 1.50 ERA) baffled Sierra hitters for seven strikeouts with just three hits surrendered in an 8-1 victory at Sierra to start the series. Kody Simons was 3 for 3 with a home run, triple and six RBIs in the victory. Nick Garza batted 2 for 3 while Stefan Aguilar, Mark Ortiz and Dyrda all belted hits.
Two days later, Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika gave Morris (3-1, 1.57 ERA) some rest and started reliever, Machado (2-1, 2.43 ERA), against visiting Sierra.
“We wanted to get Eddie some good innings in and give him a chance to show his stuff,” Arpoika said. “He did a good job for us.”
Machado responded with a terrific effort across six innings. He held Sierra to one earned run with six hits and seven batters downed via strikes. He was one of 17 Oakdale players to see at-bats in the game and hit 2 for 3 with a triple, run and RBI.
“We just come out and stay focused on each game and take it one game a time,” Machado said. “My catcher (Garza) blocked every ball and he was a big reason we did so well.”
Oakdale rattled 15 hits off a barrage of Sierra pitchers in the win, showing strength at the plate even when the bench began to empty in the bottom of the sixth inning. Garza and pinch-hitter Shawn Harrity both scored to force a 10-run mercy ruling in the bottom of the frame after good at-bats by Bastian Jimenez, Nick Denning and Craig Handzlik in consecutive trips to the plate.
Aguilar was 2 for 2 with a double while Justin Martin hit 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a triple. Nathan Fuller, Austin Dickens, Dyrda, Lane Branch, Simons and Spencer Thomas (two RBIs) also had hits in the win.
Oakdale is at Manteca today, April 25 to start a two-game series with the Buffaloes. The Mustangs host Manteca on Friday and tackle Sonora on May 2 and 4.
“We feel like we are in a good position,” Arpoika said. “We need to keep it up.”