STOCKTON — Mark de la Motte had his end of the year speech ready if needed.
The Turlock High baseball coach could save it at least one more day as the Bulldogs rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap a wild 5-4 win over Buhach Colony in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 South playoffs on Monday at the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field.
"I did not want to have to give that speech," de la Motte said. "We got a few breaks at the end. We put the ball in play and good things happen."
The game had been following the Thunder's script. Sophomore left-hander Andrew Mitchel gave Buhach Colony coach Greg Wakefield all he could ask for as he shut out the Bulldogs (27-2) through the first four innings.
Justin Prichard gave Buhach Colony (19-12) a 1-0 lead with a two-out RBI single in the top of the first. Prichard then delivered again with two outs with a two-run double in the top of the fifth to extend the Thunder's lead to 3-0.
Mitchel pitched into the sixth inning and left with Buhach Colony ahead 4-2.
"He did a great job," Wakefield said. "He's a sophomore kid who I had a good feeling would give us a good effort. He gave me more than I could hope for."
Wakefield turned to his ace Daulton Jefferies with one out in the bottom of the sixth and nobody on. After throwing 105 pitches just four days before against Tracy, he seemed to be pitching on sheer will as he tried to get the final five outs.
Jefferies uncharacteristically walked two hitters in the sixth as the Bulldogs loaded the bases before Luis Mendez struck out to end the inning. But Jefferies couldn't escape the seventh unscathed.
"He was pitching on guts," Wakefield said. "That was a lot to ask of him. I was hoping for five easy outs and that didn't happen."
A couple hits and an error helped the Bulldogs pull within 4-3. With two outs and a runner on first, Gavin Gaffaney hit a single to right and Nick Voumard walked to load the bases.
Turlock's Darren Trainor then hit a ball that seemed to skip under the glove of Jefferies on the mound. Buhach Colony second baseman Josh Ramos fielded the ball and tried to tag Voumard as he slid, but Ramos' glove, with the ball, flew off, allowing everyone to reach as Turlock tied the game 4-4.
Before the Thunder could regroup, Cameron Matsumura dropped down a bunt single that scored Gaffaney from third base with the winning run.
I knew if I was going to come up the game would be tied and the bases would be loaded, Matsumura said. I watched the third baseman when I was on deck and noticed he was playing back. I got into a good count and got a fastball to bunt and I laid it down.
Turlock players stormed out of their dugout to celebrate the win.
Amazing, de la Motte said. What a game. Jefferies is one of the best players our league has ever seen. What a competitor. He absolutely left every thing on the field.
While the Bulldogs continue their season today in another elimination game against Pitman, Buhach Colony's season comes to an end.
"That was tough," Jefferies said. "He had 99.9 percent of that game won. I was pitching on adrenaline. I just didn't have it today.
"This loss will probably take a couple weeks to get over. It'll pass though. It's baseball. This loss will teach me how to deal with future losses."
St. Mary's 8, Pitman 6
The Pride let a six-run slip away as the Rams scored eight unanswered runs to send Pitman into the losers bracket of the Division 1 South playoffs.
Pitman exploded for five runs in the second inning with the help of a two-run single by Jordan Gonzalez.
St. Mary's stormed back with four runs in the fourth inning as Jed Sprague helped cash in on a pair of walks with a two-run single.
The Rams scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth with the help of two Pitman errors.