A promising start to the 2018 Mark Dickens Invitational ended in disappointment for the host Oakdale Mustangs.
The varsity baseball team reached the championship game but fell to Escalon by a final of 4-3 in a tightly contested finale.
“It’s disappointing but we will look forward to getting back into Valley Oak League (VOL) action,” said coach Chris Henry.
Oakdale reached the championship game after knocking off Tokay and Central Catholic in the first and second rounds. In their opening round, Oakdale shut out Tokay 3-0 behind the pitching of senior Shawn Merriam. He pitched a complete game shutout and gave up only three hits while striking out three.
“I fed off of what the guys behind me were doing, they were great out there,” said Merriam of his teammates.
The Mustangs committed only one error in the game. On the offensive side of things, Hunter Ginger, Dylan Wright and Julian Velasquez each had an RBI, and Dane Gibson led the team with two hits including a double.
On Tuesday, April 3 the team got an early look at fellow VOL team, Central Catholic. The Mustangs scored five runs in the fifth inning to slam the door on the Raiders 12-2. Oakdale hit the ball well as they rapped out 11 hits and kept it clean on defense, committing no errors. Shortstop Alex Daoud had four hits on the day including a double and a triple that resulted in three RBI on the afternoon.
“Anytime we can beat a league opponent, whether it is in a tournament or not, is always a good thing,” said Daoud.
Third baseman Dylan Wright went 2-for-4 at the plate and had four RBI on the day. Gibson, Corey Hinojosa, Jacob Solorio and Jake Elting each had one RBI as well.
Pitcher Justin Jericoff earned the win as he pitched four strong innings for the Mustangs. He had seven strikeouts and gave up three hits.
In the championship game Oakdale had a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning; Escalon won the coin toss to be named home team for the contest. In the inning Oakdale gave up three hits including a walk off by first baseman Cole Gilbert, who hit the ball to the right field wall and brought in Cougar Max Nicholas from second base with the winning run.
Oakdale had six hits on the day from six different batters. Hayden Knittel had an RBI single to lead the Mustang offense.
On Tuesday, April 10 the Mustangs returned to VOL play when they took on Manteca, following The Leader’s press time. Thursday, April 12 the team travels to Manteca to finish the season series.