The Wolf Pack baseball team carved out a place for itself atop the Tri-City Athletic League with a pair of wins over Tokay High of Lodi on Friday and Saturday.
The quest for playoffs and the league championship usually turns out to be a contest among West, Tokay and St. Mary’s, so the Wolf Pack can go into its games against St. Mary’s on Wednesday and Friday, April 18 and 20, knowing they already knocked over one league rival.
“We’re trying to beat all of the doubters this year,” said West junior closing pitcher Kevin Oetken. “For anybody that says that West isn’t going to win games or score runs, we will. We’re going to come back and battle.”
West coach Roger Gallardo said that moving to 3-5 overall and 2-0 in the TCAL is the best outcome he could expect for the first week of league play.
“It’s huge, because in our division it’s tough and competitive. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” Gallardo said. “You put the ball in play, you give yourself a chance, you get decent pitching and good defense, you have a chance. Two days in a row we gave ourselves more than a chance.”
Saturday’s game at West saw the Pack take an early advantage with a five-run third inning, then put up a strong defense to keep Tokay (8-8, 0-2 TCAL) from making a comeback.
Tokay scored two in the top of the fourth and another in the fifth to cut West’s lead to 5-3, but West rallied in the bottom of the fifth for four runs on four base hits.
Tokay answered with four runs in the top of the sixth.
Oetken limited the damage in the sixth, however, after he came in with one out and the bases loaded. Rafael Tijero and Steven Gonzalves batted in runs in the bottom of the sixth to stretch West’s lead to 11-7.
Jalen Ransome and Nick Gandall each singled twice and batted in two runs, Chase Martinez and Rafael Tijero also singled twice and each batted in a run, and Jack Kelly and Steven Gonzalves also had hits and RBIs.
Starting pitcher Ransome went five innings and gave up three runs on four hits for the win. Stephen Riley and Jacob Thomassen both pitched in the sixth and gave up four runs between them, and Oetken pitched 12/3 innings to close the game and allowed one hit, no runs and struck out two.
West’s sophomore team lost to Tokay, 2-1.
Gabe Culver, Tyler Durant and Michael Alameda pitched for West.
Peter Creasman scored West’s only run in the second after he singled, stole second and advanced on a passed ball. He was plated on a sacrifice grounder.
West 2, Tokay 1
West and Tokay got in their first TCAL game Friday at San Joaquin Delta College after they juggled their schedules because of the rain.
Tokay got runners on base in the early innings, but West’s defense kept them from advancing past third.
West scored in the fourth after Jalen Ransome reached on an infield error to start the inning. He stole second, and Rafael Tijero followed with a walk. Tokay pitcher Will Lydon’s pickoff attempt on Tijero went wide, which allowed both runners to advance, and Ransome made the dash for home to score.
Steven Gonsalves followed with double off the right-center fence to score Tijero. Gonzalves said he knew right away that he made solid contact on the outside fastball.
“I just sat back and drove it the other way. I thought it was gone at first,” he said. He added that the close win shows that players trust each other when they need to.
“We never get down and we pick each other up. We all play with passion,” he said.
From that point on, West just had to hold back Tokay.
Two Tokay batters were hit by pitches to start the fifth, and they advanced on a sacrifice bunt. One scored on a sacrifice fly, and while left fielder Gonzalves’ throw to home wasn’t in time to get the out, West catcher Chase Martinez made a throw to Garrett Speckman at third to get the other runner out as he tried to advance.
West coach Roger Gallardo said some hard knocks in the early part of the season prepared his defense to make plays under pressure.
“We’ve been playing some tough preseason games, and we know that when we face Tokay they’re going to be tough,” he said. “Our preseason schedule prepared us for these moments. Hopefully, we’ll just build off of this win.
West starting pitcher Cowles threw five innings and gave up one run on two hits, and he also walked two and hit four batters with pitches. Cowles got the win, and Kevin Oetken got the save after he pitched two innings and allowed one hit.
West’s three hits for the day also included singles for Cowles and Speckman.
Millennium 15, Turlock Christian 4
The Millennium High baseball team (12-5 overall) finished in second place at the Turlock Christian Tournament on Saturday, April 14, going 2-1 for the weekend and taking a 15-4 win over the host team in the final game.
The Falcons collected 15 hits for the day and had five-run rallies in both the first and third innings. Gavin Compton, who would be named the tournament Most Valuable Player, hit a three-run homer and also singled twice.
Jose Avila doubled and batted in three runs, Spencer Blackwell and Tanner Carroll singled twice and doubled, Austin Larson doubled twice, Joe Bains had two hits, and Drew Carroll singled.
Avila pitched five innings for the win and gave up three hits and struck out six for the win. Joe Bains pitched two innings and gave up one hit.
Millennium 8, Forest Lake Christian 3
Gavin Compton hit a grand slam in the first inning of the Falcons’ second game of the Turlock Christian Tournament.
Forest Lake scored in the second and third innings, but was unable to catch up. Millennium had eight hits for the day, including a double and a single for Kyle Murawski; two hits for Jose Avila; and singles for Austin Larson, Joe Bains and Drew Carroll.
Drew Carroll pitched five innings for the win, allowing three runs on five hits.