Thunder clinches postseason berth

slynch@mercedsun-star.comMay 1, 2013 

— The Merced baseball team didn't put a lot of good swings on balls on Wednesday night.

Yet the Bears never had shortage of base runners.

Merced drew eight walks, had three hit batters and took advantage of a Buhach Colony error.

But every time one of the Thunder pitchers managed to get themselves into trouble, the BC defense was there to pick them up.

Second baseman Josh Ramos and shortstop Daulton Jefferies were at the heart of it, turning four double plays in the game. Throw in some big picks by first baseman Brandon Young, and it was a long, frustrating evening for the Bears.

The last two double plays came in bases-loaded situations as Buhach wrapped up a spot in the playoffs with a 10-2 road victory.

The win keeps the Thunder (15-10, 8-5 Central California Conference) one game ahead of Pitman (7-6 CCC) for the league's second seed.

BC starter Kaden Verdin was effectively wild.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander struggled with his command all night, but was very good when he was in the strike zone.

He exited the game in the fifth inning without surrendering a hit, but the walks started to catch up to him.

Verdin sidestepped trouble in the fourth inning when he got Josh May to bounce a hard hit ball to Jefferies with the bases loaded.

Jefferies stepped on second and fired to first for an inning ending double play.

Jonathan Ruiz got similar help in relief of Verdin in the fifth, inducing a 4-6-3 double play to escape another jam.

Buhach was a little more efficient with men on base.

Young got the scoring started with an RBI ground out in the first.

Ramos pushed the lead to 3-0 with a two-run triple in the third inning. He came home on a Young single to make it 4-0.

Young added an RBI double in the fifth to give the Thunder a 5-0 lead.

BC put the game away in the seventh as the wheels came of for Merced (10-15, 4-9 CCC).

The Thunder hit through the order, plating five runs on three hits, three walks and one hit batter.

Shawn Heath-Smith broke up the no-hitter with a clean single to open the sixth inning.

Merced got on the board in the seventh with an Eli Gutierrez run-scoring single and a Jordan Kemps sacrifice fly.

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