The Los Banos High School baseball team put a scare into league-leading Ceres on Tuesday, helped along by the Bulldogs’ four errors.
But Ceres starting pitcher Alan Marquez did stay on the mound for the complete game, striking out seven Tigers, in a 5-4 victory for his undefeated team.
“He’s been very resilient this year. He’s pretty good up to the mid-90s as far as pitch count,” Ceres coach John Bussard said. “He was getting close to that, so we had somebody ready to go in, but he’s been a workhouse for us all year.”
A three-run fourth inning gave Ceres what it needed, with Marquez, Brett Conway and Merrik Price each hitting RBI doubles.
But after the Tigers failed to get a baserunner in the first three innings, Ceres helped them to two runs on two singles and two errors in the bottom of the fourth. Brevin Welch reached on a throwing error and Steven Domanski singled, and both scored on a Tyler Slayday single. Domanski had advanced home on an error as Ceres tried to get him out at third.
“One of the top teams, and we battled back,” Los Banos coach Pat Fuentes said. “They made some errors that kept us in it, that helped us, but what helped them the most was getting them two-out hits. They got a couple more hits than we did and I’m going to live with that. The team with the most hits with two outs and runners in scoring position usually wins, and they got it done today.”
Bussard said the miscues were not characteristic of his team.
“We had a very shoddy practice yesterday,” Bussard said. “The prom was this past weekend, so the kids came out very tired. We’ve had some illness. ... We came out very lethargic and very tired yesterday.”
Ceres opened the scoring in the third with a Brandon Machado RBI single, and added another in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Izaiah Hernandez. Los Banos starter Christian Garnica departed in the top of the fifth to make way for Chris Corral, who gave up three singles in his first four batters faced. But Corral closed the inning with a groundout and a strikeout to stop the bleeding at one run.
Two Los Banos runs scored in the bottom of the fifth – starting with Vincenzo Greco walking and scoring on a Corbin Lilledahl double down the right field line. Lilledahl scored when he stole third and advanced on an error in the attempt to put him out.
The Bulldogs bounced back from a throwing error in the bottom of the sixth that put Domanski on second base to get out unscathed. In the seventh, Corral put down Los Banos’ No. 7, 8 and 9 batters to help keep the Bulldogs undefeated in Western Athletic Conference play.
Los Banos traveled to Ceres on Thursday for the other half of the series. Results were unavailable at press time.
“I told the boys, the only thing I would like to change in this is if we could score early, flip it on them, put some pressure on them to see how they’re playing from behind,” Fuentes said. “We’ve been playing from behind a lot the last – against Central and these guys. We get down and we fight back, and we fight back. We haven’t jumped on anybody yet to have them feel pressure, so right now we’re the team feeling all the pressure.
“And hey, that’s good. It lets us see what they’re about in those pressure situations, so it doesn’t bother me.”