MERCED — Welcome to the 2013 Central California Conference baseball race, where just about every team is in the hunt.
Atwater High kept its playoff hopes alive by out-slugging Merced 11-8 on Wednesday night at Merced High.
The two teams combined for 19 runs, 25 hits and nine errors.
Both teams swung the bats really well tonight, said Falcons coach Jarrod Pimentel, whose team improved 12-10 overall and 4-7 in the CCC. A lot of balls were stung by both teams and they went right at people. You might have been able to add three or four hits for both teams.
Pimentel couldnt remember the last time Atwater had won at Merced. The Bears shut out the Falcons in the two games the teams played earlier this season.
It might be six or seven years since the last time we won on this field, Pimentel said. That was a big obstacle to overcome.
The Falcons jumped on top early with three first-inning runs.
Vic Tiscareno, Tyler Zeller and Dalton Beatty connected on three straight hits off Merced ace Matt Smith to start the game and all came around to score.
When the Falcons werent getting hits they were taking advantage of six Merced errors.
The Bears (10-13, 4-7 CCC) had a chance of getting out of the third inning after only giving up one run. However, an errant throw prevented Merced from turning an inning-ending double play, which helped the Falcons tack on two more runs to extend their lead to 6-1.
The Bears answered with three runs in the bottom of the third inning with the help of a Josh May double and an Atwater error that led to two runs.
Unlike the first two games against Atwater, the Bears pitchers couldnt get anything past the Falcons hitters.
Bear Vasquez drove in two runs in the fourth inning with a double as the Falcons rallied for three more runs to extend their lead to 9-4.
Every time Merced crept closer, Atwater would tack on more runs.
Zeller picked up the win on the mound, pitching four innings. He also contributed two RBI doubles at the plate and scored two runs.
Vasquez went 3 for 4 at the plate. Beatty had a pair of hits and scored three runs.
May went 2 for 3 for Merced with two runs and three RBIs.
The Falcons win pulls them even with Merced for fourth place, two games behind both Pitman and Buhach Colony for the final playoff spot with four games left in the regular season.
This year, except for Turlock, its an absolute grind, Pimentel said. Its going to come down to the very last game.
Pitman 3, Golden Valley 2
TURLOCK The Cougars stranded a lot of runners, including two bases loaded and less than two-out opportunities, and the Pride's Alex Sniezek hit what proved to be the game-winning home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Alec McAuley doubled in the loss for GV.
Waterford 7, Le Grand 1
WATERFORD Kinsey Haas hit a solo home run, but Waterford's Kylie Ragsdale silenced the other Bulldog bats as the Wildcats avenged their only Southern League loss and took sole possession of first place.