Greg Wakefield has spent the past couple days trying to figure out the best plan to get his Buhach Colony baseball team to the double-elimination portion of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs.
To reach that goal the Thunder (17-10) must win two games, beginning with today's opening-round game against Stagg (15-8) at Buhach Colony at 4 p.m.
A win today would set up a showdown on Thursday against Tracy (16-11) at 7 p.m. at the University of the Pacific.
The biggest question facing Wakefield may be when to call on his ace Daulton Jefferies?
It's an intriguing question with the Thunder facing potentially back-to-back single-elimination games.
"The goal is get to Game 3," Wakefield said. "If you can get to Game 3 you have a legitimate shot. It's anybody's game at that point. But you still have to take it one game at a time.
"It would be hard not to start him."
There's definitely a case to be made either way. Especially when you consider what awaits Buhach Colony on Thursday at UOP if the Thunder get past Stagg. Tracy will likely throw its UCLA-bound ace Jonah Wesely, who throws a fastball that clocks in the low 90s.
If somehow Wakefield could limit Jefferies' innings today, it puts the Thunder in much better shape in Game 2 against Tracy.
"That would definitely be a game to go see if those two squared off," Wakefield said. "I don't know if that will happen or not."
Why the fuss about Jefferies?
The Cal-bound senior is 10-1 this season with a microscopic 0.66 ERA. He's struck out 120 batters in 74 innings. Kaden Verdin (4-3, 1.99 ERA) and Jonathan Ruiz (2-3, 2.60) would be the likely pitchers to start if Wakefield decides to go that route.
Wakefield would love to keep Jefferies available for Thursday. The only problem is, he knows the Thunder have a tough matchup today against Stagg.
The Delta Kings finished third in the Tri-City Athletic League and have a tough pitcher of their own in Jesse Basilio, who Wakefield compares to Atwater's Ryan Sanchez.
"Any team that makes the playoffs has done some good things to get there," Wakefield said. "Stagg has a legitimate No. 1 pitcher and they swing the bats well."
Wakefield says he's not worried about losing without firing his best bullet.
"There's zero chance he's staying in the gun," Wakefield said. "He's coming out of the gun no matter what. It's just whether he'll be the first bullet, the second bullet, or the third bullet. He's pitching the first day."