Merced's Smith leads way over GV

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comApril 17, 2013 

Matt Smith had a little extra motivation on Wednesday afternoon to pitch well.

It was his father, Richard’s birthday. As a gift, the Merced High senior pitched a two-hit shutout as the Bears defeated Golden Valley 5-0 at Doug Fister Field.

“He wanted a no-hitter,” Smith said. “He’ll have to settle for this.”

Richard Smith leaves for work before his son gets up for school every day. He’ll usually leave Matt notes.

“Today’s note said ‘no walks’ with some explicativesexpletives,” Matt said. “It’s funny. He was able to make this game. The only other game he was able to come to was the Atwater game.”

Matt Smith took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in that start against Atwater on March13. On Wednesday, Golden Valley’s Brandon Adame and David Vidauri picked up hits in the third and fourth innings to end any no-hit bid.

The Bears (10-11, 4-5 Central California Conference) took advantage of a leadoff walk to manufacture a run in the top of the first inning against Cougars starter Jarrod Hamblin.

Derek Alva drew the walk, moved to second on a bunt, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shawn Heath-Smith.

Heath-Smith was only getting warmed up. The senior used the wind to his advantage when he launched a two-run homer over the right-field fence in the third inning to extend the Bears’ lead to 3-0.

“He did get the ball up in the jet stream,” said Merced coach Justin Parle. “Like I told the players, it’s good and bad. You have friends competing against friends. A few at-bats after that I saw guys trying to repeat that feat.

“I had to remind our guys we can’t do that. We have to stay within ourselves and hit line drives.”

Joseph Salmeri and Alva each had two hits for Merced.

Hamblin pitched six solid innings, but couldn’t match the zeroes put up by Smith.

“He did a good job,” Golden Valley coach Scott Solis said. “He threw 95percent of his pitches really well. It was the five percent that he left up. That home run they hit was a pitch up. The few pitches he left up Merced took advantage.”

Meanwhile, Smith was efficient out on the mound, needing only 77 pitches to get through all seven innings.

He did have to pitch around a couple hit batters when he beaned Grant Borba and Ridge Bertuccio.

“Both teams know each other so well,” Smith said. “They know how I pitch. They know everything about us. It’s completely different than facing other teams.

“They have scouting reports. It’s almost like the major leagues. They know I struggled fielding bunts last year so they tried to bunt a little bit. I plunked two of my really good friends. I hugged them after the game.”

The win was important for Merced as it tries to get back in the playoff picture after getting swept by Pitman last week.

The Bears trail the Pride by one game for the third playoff spot in the CCC with six games left.

“We’re not back to .500, we’re 4-5 and we’ve got some more work to do,” Parle said. “It basically comes down to execution on defense, pitching and getting quality at-bats.

“We can’t worry about standings or records. We have to take care of ourselves.”

The two teams will square off again on Friday night at Merced High at 7p.m. in the annual Nannini Game.

Buhach Colony 3, Atwater 1

ATWATER — Daulton Jefferies continued his dominance on the mound, striking out nine on his way to a complete-game victory.

The Thunder improved to 13-8 overall, 6-3 CCC.

The Cal-bound Jefferies also went 3 for 4 at the plate with a double. Zack Bianchi doubled and scored two runs for the Thunder.

Jefferies is the third possible Division I pitcher the Falcons have facedplayed in four games after facing Turlock’s Tyler Murphy (St. Mary’s) last week and St. Mary’s of Albany’s Kevin Flemer (Oregon State) in the finale of their Easter tournament.

Brandon Curiel collected two hits for Atwater and Bear Vasquez doubled.

These two teams will play again on Friday at Buhach Colony at 4 p.m.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsunstar.com.

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