Spring is in the air and that means time for cleats to hit the baseball diamond.
The Sac-Joaquin Section runner up Oakdale Mustangs opened their preseason campaign with a pair of games this past week. At home Oakdale fell to Beyer 5-4 on Tuesday, Feb. 27 but turned things around the very next day when they knocked off Merced 9-4 on the road in a Wednesday, March 1 contest.
In their home loss Oakdale started the game off on the right foot when they scored four runs in the fifth inning to go up 4-0. Junior Alex Daoud started the big inning with a two-RBI single to give the Mustangs a 2-0 advantage with one out. Senior first baseman Dane Gibson brought in the team’s third run on an RBI sacrifice fly that scored Daoud from third. The Mustangs scored their final run on a Beyer error. The Patriots posted five unanswered runs in the top half of the sixth inning to stun the Mustangs.
“We are a young team, and I feel that we have improved from our scrimmage game from a few weeks back,” said new head coach Chris Henry.
Henry, who replaced Nate Gregory this offseason, was the coach of the junior varsity team the last few seasons.
The next day Oakdale jumped out to 3-0 lead in the first inning. In the road win Daoud went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and starting pitcher Hayden Knittel pitched four full innings with eight strikeouts and allowed three hits. At the plate Knittel had two RBI as well.
“Hayden pitched great for us, and that kind of sparked us,” said Henry.
Nathan Womack came in the game and pitched three innings of relief.
Juniors Max Moore and Jake Elting each swung the bat well as Moore went 2-for-4 and had two RBI for the Mustang and Elting had a clutch hit in the win.
“Our team can hit for power but also can work the bases on singles as well. I like what I saw this week,” added Henry.
The varsity team hosted El Capitan on Monday, March 5 following The Leader’s deadline. This week the boys head to Turlock for a three-day tournament at Pedretti Park.
Replacing Coach Henry at the junior varsity level is Erik Brink. He served on the varsity staff last season and is the new man in charge for the JV team. It was a successful debut for Coach Brink and his team as they defeated Beyer 3-0 at home and served up a 27-0 road win over Merced. In the victory over Beyer, Brett Maddock pitched a complete game shutout and gave up four hits while striking out 11. On the offensive side of the ball freshman Gage Brink brought in two of the three runs as he connected on an RBI single in the fourth and brought in another run in the sixth. Catcher Evan Waite scored the first run of the game on a passed ball.
“It was a clean game, we did not commit any errors,” said Brink.
In their road game against Merced 14 of 16 players scored runs for the Mustangs. Gage Brink continued to swing a hot bat as he went 3-for-3 with three RBI. Dom Antinetti scored four runs and was issued three walks. Carson Cripe went 1-for-2 and had two RBI while Waite was hit by a pitch three times in the contest.
Like the varsity team, Oakdale hits the road for tournament play as they head to Gregori in the Salida Rotary Tournament that is scheduled to begin on Thursday.
The youngest of the three teams played one game this past week when they defeated Merced 12-0. Owen Pena started the game on the mound for Oakdale and pitched three innings with three strikeouts. Earning the save was Cade Evans. At the plate Oakdale had hits from Brody Ferreira, Noah Chelberg, Gannon Davis, Gideon Laird, Josh Dutra and Pena.
“I was pleased to see our guys finally play in their first game and how they handled situations,” said Coach Joey Machado. “It was a total team effort, but there is always room for improvement.”
This week the freshman team is hosting a four-day tournament that began on Tuesday, March 6.