Justin Parle might have a tough time enjoying his weekend.
The Merced High baseball coach didn't bother sugar coating Friday's gut-wrenching, 6-5 loss to Pitman that took 11 innings to finish.
"It's tough," Parle said. "We're trying to get back to .500 and stay in the mix.
"When you look through those eyes and that perspective, it's tough."
Parle watched his team battle for 3 hours and 27 minutes, only to see the Pride (5-3 Central California Conference) score an unearned run in the 11th inning for the eventual game-winner.
There were barely enough ice bags to go around for the Bears, who lost two starters in Shawn Heath-Smith (knee) and Patrick Vitato (elbow) to injuries after they were hit by pitches.
Merced scraped and clawed its way through the game despite collecting just three hits.
It was an odd game that was decided by two freshmen pitchers in the end.
Pitman right-hander Trevor Chaney breezed through the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters he faced.
The Pride staked him to a 3-0 lead, but his control deserted him in the fourth inning.
Merced scored four runs in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit, taking advantage of four hit batters and three walks to suddenly take the lead.
"In a short time Trevor just lost it," said Pitman coach John Acha. "We got someone (Derek Finney) else in and he wasn't hot right away. Fortunately, he was able to minimize the damage."
The inning was costly with Heath-Smith and Vitato being forced to leave the game after being hit by pitches.
The Bears couldn't get the big hit when they needed it.
With the game tied 4-4, Merced had the bases loaded in the seventh inning with just one out.
Parle tried to win the game with a bunt, but Tyler McBurney bunted the ball back to Pitman's freshman pitcher Matt Carrigg, who threw the ball home for the second out. Carrigg then got Cody Laney to hit a ground ball to third to get out of the inning.
"We had talked about bunting in a certain situation," Parle said. "We darn near pulled it off. If I had to do it over again, I'd do it over again.
"I know I had the guy to do it. If the ball is three feet left or right it's a different outcome."
Carrigg came on to pitch in the seventh for the Pride and he pitched five scoreless innings.
Merced also got a nice effort from its relievers as Alex Ortega came on in the fourth inning and kept the Bears in the game.
Freshman Josh May went to the mound in the ninth and retired the first six hitters he faced.
"They brought him in the other day to face us," Acha said. "When they brought him in again it was like, 'Uh oh.' He looked good again. He's got a good future."
The two teams combined to hit seven batters and it was Mays hitting Pitman's Wyatt Clapper with a pitch that started the winning rally for the Pride in the 11th.
Mays balked the runner to second and Carrigg hit a grounder to second that got by Joseph Salmeri for an error that allowed the eventual winning run to score.
Salmeri was only playing second base because he suffered an injury earlier in the game that didn't allow him to make the throw across the diamond from third.
"I had other guys I could have put in, but I didn't know how long this game was going to go and I didn't want to lose his bat," Parle said. "I'm not going to get mad because of a physical error."
The Bears now find themselves two games behind Pitman and Buhach Colony in the playoff chase with seven games remaining.
"We've got Golden Valley next week and they're not going to lay down for us," Parle said. "We're going to have to lick our wounds, literally. We had three starters injured. Hopefully, they'll be ready to go next week."
Buhach Colony 6, Golden Valley 2
Daulton Jefferies led off the game with a home run as the Thunder (5-3 CCC) finished off a two-game sweep of the Cougars.
Shane Bell went 3 for 3 for Buhach Colony.
Turlock 10, Atwater 2
ATWATER -- Austin Bush doubled and homered as Turlock improved to 8-0 in the CCC.
Victor Tiscareno, Dalton Beatty and Bear Vasquez all had two hits for Atwater (2-6 CCC).