Oakdale brought big bats to their home and home series against Kimball. With their 7-0 home win followed by an 11-6 road win in the 2015 regular season finale, Oakdale finished second overall in the Valley Oak League (VOL) standings.
Monday’s home win was extra special for the team’s six seniors. Known as “The Rowdies” the group was honored prior to the first pitch; seniors Nick Mattos, Wade Branch, Spencer Hager, Preston Brunk, Carson McCarty and Nolen Legan were all recognized by their teammates, family, friends and fans.
In the Mustangs home win, junior pitcher Tanner Emes took the mound for Oakdale. Emes started the game off by giving up back-to-back singles, but settled down and retired the next three batters. Oakdale struck in the bottom of the first inning when Bryce Kirk hit a sacrifice fly to center field just deep enough to bring in Ben Solorio from third base to give Oakdale a 1-0 advantage after the first inning.
Emes, backed by his stellar defense, got into his comfort zone as he gave up only one hit through innings two and three combined. With two outs in the bottom of the third, the Mustangs earned back to back singles by Kirk and Branch. Tyler Hall was awarded for his patience in the batter’s box, resulting in ball four on a full count to load the bases. Hager wasted no time as he blasted the ball over the left centerfield wall for a two out grand slam to bust the game open at 5-0 Oakdale.
Kimball threatened to get on the board in the top of fifth as they had a runner on third, when Fred Grestenberger hit a rocket down the third base line that was caught by a diving Logan Hall for the final out of the top of the fifth.
Bottom of the sixth, Sean Gingerich got his only hit of the game, but it was worth the wait for the sophomore second baseman, as he hit a two out RBI double that brought in Tyler Hall to make it 6-0 Oakdale. The Mustangs added their final run of the game when Solorio connected on a two out double of his own to bring home Gingerich in the sixth inning. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Kimball had runners on first and second when outfielder Adam Olsen made a diving catch just shy of the warning track to end the game.
“Today was a great team win. Tanner (Emes) dominated from the beginning. He got himself out of some jams, and the defense played great too. This win was much needed after our tough loss to Central Catholic,” said Hager following the victory.
With the win, Oakdale punched its playoff ticket. The boys are the fifth seed and were scheduled to host 11th seeded Yuba City in the opening round. The game was held after the Leader press time. A win there would put Oakdale into the second round, where they would take on third ranked Christian Brothers at McAuliffe Memorial Ball Park in Sacramento on Thursday, May 14. Game time is slated for 4 p.m.