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Baseball Mustangs End Season With Playoff Loss
Senior Nick Mattos entered the game as a relief pitcher for the Mustangs. Mattos was sidelined with injuries and rehabbing for the last seven months. DENNIS D. CRUZ/The Leader


Home field advantage was not enough to hold off Yuba City as the 11th seeded Honkers came to town and knocked off the Mustangs 10-5, to eliminate the Oakdale varsity baseball team from the 2015 CIF Sac-Joaquin Division III playoffs.

Oakdale, the sixth seed, found themselves in a hole early, giving up five runs on five hits and committing two errors in the top of the first inning on Monday, May 11. The varsity campaign ended with the disappointing home loss.

Junior Tanner Emes started the game for the Mustangs, but his time on the mound was short lived as the right hander was pulled in the third inning. Senior Nick Mattos entered the game in relief. It was Mattos’ first appearance of the season, as he battled injuries and was rehabbing for much of the campaign.

“Emotion was running high, so that cancels out the pain. It’s been seven months since I’ve played or even got a workout like I did today,” shared Mattos on his season debut in what turned out to be the season finale.

The Mustangs had opportunities with runners in scoring position but failed to cash in during the early innings of the game, leaving three runners in scoring position with two outs or less over the course of the first three innings. A prime example of this was when center fielder Ben Solorio hit the ball deep to left field and with the help of the wind, the ball changed direction and it landed over the outfielder’s head for a double with one out. The speedy Solorio caught the catcher napping and stole third base with two outs. Solorio was stranded at third after fellow senior Nolen Legan grounded out to first to end the third inning.

Mattos and the Mustangs fell behind 7-0 after a two run home run in the top of the fourth inning. The Mustangs bounced back in the bottom half of the fourth inning and scored their first run on a Brad Aquino RBI single to score Bryce Kirk from third with one out.

Yuba City countered with a two-run fifth inning. Oakdale’s offense carried a heavy bat in the bottom of the fifth themselves, scoring three runs with two outs to close the gap to 9-4 and get back in the game. Oakdale’s Logan Hall scored on an error from the Honkers second baseman for the Mustangs first run of the inning. With the bases loaded, Sean Gingerich hit a hard shot to the third baseman who bobbled the ball and could not recover in time, as Wade Branch scored from third. Aquino earned his second RBI of the day when he hit a ball to centerfield to score Kirk.

A scoreless sixth inning set up a 9-4 game in the final frame. Yuba City loaded up the bases with no outs, but Oakdale’s defense only gave up one run to trail 10-4. The last chance for the Mustangs came with one out and nobody on. Legan hit a high pop up into the sunset sky where it had appeared that the outfielder caught the ball on his way to the grass. When he stood up, the ball fell out of his glove. The home plate umpire asked for help from his second base umpire who ruled it a no catch and Legan was awarded first base. Kirk then hit a sharp ground ball to the second baseman, who could not come up with it, and designated runner Brad Smith advanced to third. With two outs and runners on the corners, Aquino reached on an error to score Smith and cut the lead to 10-5. Unfortunately the Mustangs fell short of a comeback when Adam Olsen grounded out to end the game.

“It’s tough. This is a great group of kids, who competed all season long,” said head coach Nate Gregory. “No matter the situation these guys battled each day.”