After making short work of Weston Ranch this week, the varsity baseball team has now won five straight games. The team started out 0-3 in league play but has since elevated their intensity and focus to get on a little bit of a roll.
“Our hard work and coming together as a team have carried us the last five games or so. We have overcome early season adversity and we are starting to roll now,” outfielder Cullen Bearden agreed of the team’s recent success.
Oakdale (14-6, 5-3) played a home-and-home series with Weston Ranch (13-7, 2-6) where the Mustangs defeated the Cougars 5-1 and 8-3 in the two-game series.
First, Oakdale visited the Cougars on Wednesday, April 20 where the Mustangs bested the Cougars 5-1 in the road win. Junior Bryce Kirk swung a big bat going 4-for-4 with two RBI on the day. Also racking up an RBI apiece for Oakdale were juniors Cullen Bearden (1-for-1 with three walks) and Sean Gingrich (1-for-3 with a walk).
Senior Austin Manning took the mound and the win as he pitched seven strong innings. Southpaw Manning struck out nine Cougar batters and only gave up one hit. This was Manning’s fifth win of the season and he currently holds an ERA of 1.43 in 44 innings pitched.
Oakdale returned home on Friday for game two against Weston Ranch. The two ball clubs also had to battle Mother Nature as rain and gusty winds swirled at the OHS ballpark for the first two innings of play. Soggy conditions could not slow down the Mustangs, though, as senior outfielder Ben Solorio led off the bottom of the first inning with a standup triple, his first of four hits on the game. Oakdale’s first run came on a sacrifice fly from Manning to score Solorio on the next play.
“I was seeing a giant ball today. I am feeling comfortable in the batter’s box, seeing pitches and hitting what is in front of me,” Solorio said.
The Mustangs expanded their 1-0 lead in the second inning as Blake Whiting hit the ball deep to center field getting past a diving Cougars outfielder resulting in an RBI double to score Vito Rodin from first base. Solorio got his second hit of the day, an RBI single to score Blake Maddock from first base with two outs in the bottom of the second inning to boost the Mustangs lead to 3-0. The speedy Solorio scored from first base on a Manning double that made it 4-0.
Following a scoreless third inning, Oakdale put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth inning when Oakdale tacked on three more runs. With two outs and bases loaded, Bearden cleared the bases on a deep shot to center field where the ball sailed to the warning track resulting in a three run double that expanded the Mustang lead to 7-0.
“I was trying to focus under the pressure. I had two strikes on me and I squared up a ball that was elevated,” Bearden said of his crowd pleasing fourth inning double.
Oakdale scored their final run in the bottom of the fifth on a bases loaded walk to score Manning.
Junior Michael Juarez earned the win with his five full innings pitched, giving up one hit while striking out three and walking two.
Oakdale looks to continue their midseason surge when they welcome Sierra (9-7, 3-4) today, Wednesday April 27. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
On Friday, April 29 the second place Mustangs travel to Sierra High School in Manteca to face the Timberwolves with a scheduled start time of 4 p.m.
The JV squad improved to 7-1 in league play after outscoring Weston Ranch 45-4 in two games. In the team’s 22-4 road win Oakdale scored 10 runs in the first inning and never looked back. Dylan Wright went 2-for-4 at the plate and drove in four runs for Oakdale while Dane Gibson went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Julian Velasquez drove in three runs going 1-for-3. Wright started the game for Oakdale on the mound giving up two hits and striking out eight in four innings. The team’s bats remained hot in their home game against the Cougars, scoring 12 of their 23 runs in the third inning. Corey Hinojosa went 1-for-1 with three walks and three RBI on a base clearing triple.