With his Oakdale Baseball Association 11-12 All Stars sporting a 14-11 lead over Lodi in the bottom of the fourth inning, Oakdale manager Ron Helms could only turn away from the diamond as a towering Lodi connection seemed to soar for a game changing grand slam.
But the two-out monster blast found an untimely demise with Matt Vandergriff’s mitt, just above the outfield fence.
The home run theft propelled Oakdale into a busy fifth inning and a 16-12 rout of Lodi for the Cal Ripken District 1 title.
Oakdale will take on the Cal Ripken State Championship Tournament at James Polk Middle School in Fresno on Saturday, July 11.
“That was a huge play,” Helms said. “I had put my head down and turned away, so I didn’t realize he made the catch until our crowd went wild.”
Devin Odom tossed a brilliant fifth and watched his teammates put up two more big insurance runs to secure the district banner. He had belted three hits with a double to help his own cause.
Oakdale had played six games in six nights after an eight-inning tournament opening loss to Tracy. The team rebounded to top Tracy 13-2 in the consolation finals and upended Lodi in back-to-back Wednesday contests to win it all.
Broderick Medrano crushed a three-run home run in the 13-3 drubbing of Lodi in title game No. 1 and finished 7-for-8 with three doubles in the final two games. His bat was a big reason for the all-star success.
“He was pretty awesome at the plate,” Helms said. “Lodi didn’t want any part of him after a while but he still hit anything that was close.”
Blake Whiting saw some sharp performances from the mound while Gregory Wikoff managed eight innings with no earned runs allowed throughout tourney action.
Both Oakdale and Lodi, as champion and runner-up, earn trips to Fresno for the state tournament. Oakdale plays Clovis at 2:30 p.m. to kick off their run in the double-elimination bracket.
The squad tuned up for state action with the Bel Passi Tournament in Modesto over the long holiday weekend. The team opened with a 10-0 rout of Ceres on Thursday.