The Oakdale Mustangs memorable 2017 season came to an end on Monday night. The number two seeded Mustangs fell to the top seeded Christian Brothers 5-2 at Lodi’s Tony Zupo Field in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Championship game.
“This team’s heart and character is immeasurable. We just had a few plays that did not go our way. I tip my cap to Christian Brothers, they got a hold of a fast ball that left the yard and capitalized on our mistakes tonight, that’s championship baseball,” Mustangs coach Nate Gregory said.
The Mustangs got to the championship game by winning a best of three series against third ranked Yuba City on Wednesday, May 24 at McAuliffe Memorial Ballparks in Sacramento. Oakdale took game one of the series 11-1 on Saturday, May 20 but lost game two 4-1. Down 3-0 to the Honkers in game three, Oakdale rallied thanks to a feathered friend that made its way on to the field. In the bottom of the fourth inning a wild turkey appeared in left field and made his way around the outfield and eventually to the infield. Oakdale embraced the bird and dubbed him the “Rally Turkey.”
Senior first baseman Nick Moore began the turkey-inspired rally with an RBI double that scored Bryce Kirk from first to get Oakdale on the board with one out. On the next at bat Cullen Bearden tied the game on a two-run double that sent the crowd into a gobbling frenzy.
“I am glad that turkey showed up,” second baseman Michael Juarez said, laughing.
Juarez hit a walk off fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh to send Oakdale into the championship.
In the title game, Christian Brothers jumped on the Mustangs in the fourth inning when senior catcher Diego Black launched a Blake Whiting fastball over the left field fence for a two out grand slam that traveled over 330 feet to give the Falcons a 4-0 advantage.
Oakdale answered with an RBI single from Vito Rodin that scored Juarez from third. Down 4-1 in the top of the fifth, Oakdale cut the lead to 4-2 on a sliding Whiting at home plate on a wild pitch. Oakdale fans, many with “Rally Turkey” gear on, began to gobble and cheer.
In the bottom of the sixth, Christian Brothers expanded their lead on a bizarre sequence that resulted in two Oakdale errors in the infield that scored Diego Black from first base, ultimately resulting in the 5-2 victory.
“We had a great season, super fun all year long,” said four-year varsity catcher Bryce Kirk. “It’s been a fun year, for us seniors we all played together since day one and I love this team.”
Whiting gave up five hits and struck out three in his five-and-two-thirds innings of work on Monday. One of his memorable plays was sliding into first base to get the runner out, as no one was covering the base. When Whiting exited the game, he was met by teammates and coaches in the dugout and given a standing ovation by both Oakdale and Christian Brother fans.
“Blake did a great job. He is a special talent,” Coach Gregory said.