The Valley Oak League baseball race may not unfold on an asphalt track, but it has the thrills and lead changes of a high-powered auto race.
Oakdale (9-3), Manteca and Sonora trail first place East Union, with former league leader, Sierra just behind.
Oakdale split a series with East Union, and did the same with Manteca last week after a 1-1 deadlock in the eighth inning on Thursday broke open on a five-run Buffaloes flurry (two RBI base hit, home run) in the top half of the extra inning.
The 6-1 loss was tough to swallow for an Oakdale team that was looking strong to keep its VOL lead after a dominant win over host Manteca and an incredible effort from Oakdale’s Brennon Williams.
Not only did the Mustangs ace pitcher shut out Manteca in a 6-0 win, he also drove in five of the runs and scored the other. Williams cracked a two-run triple in the top of the fifth inning to break the scoreless tie and scored himself when Andy Morris’ pop fly was misplayed in right-center field. Then in the seventh he clubbed a spirit-breaking, three-run homer to right.
On the mound he struck out five and walked two in a four-hitter.
Back on May 6 of 2010, the four-time Valley Oak League champion Mustangs lost 4-3 at Manteca. Williams nearly tied it with two outs in the seventh inning with a moon shot to center field, but Manteca’s Michael Timmins clinched it with a game-saving over-the-shoulder catch near the warning track.
“That’s been in the back of my head ever since,” Williams said. “I knew that this year I’d get to pitch here, so I wanted to do my best and compete to my best ability.”
With two outs, Matt Butler (2 for 4) hit a line drive to first base that was dropped to spark the ice-breaking rally. Kody Simons walked, and that was when Williams drilled his triple.
“I like being in that pressure situation,” Williams said. “I was confident in myself, and I just told myself that I was going to get the job done.”
Oakdale (13-4 overall) took on host Valley Christian (12-10) in the first game of the Crown Classic on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. They play again on Thursday and Saturday.
Oakdale’s junior varsity team improved to 13-5 overall and 8-2 in Valley Oak League play after a big 3-1 win over East Union and a 1-1 split of contests with Sierra. The freshman team is 11-6 overall and 7-2 in league after a 4-3 loss to Lodi and a 10-5 win over Manteca.
Manteca Bulletin Reporter Jonamar Jacinto contributed to this report.