The Merced Volunteers returned to Merced after an impressive showing in Las Vegas this past weekend.
The Volunteers went 5-1 to finish second in the four-day, 10-team, Danny Hughes Baseball Tournament at Durango High School.
Merced outscored its opponents 37-16 in winning its first five games of the tournament before losing the finale in the round-robin tournament 4-1 to Faith Lutheran of Las Vegas.
"I think the kids are starting to get comfortable with each other," said Volunteers coach Rollo Adams, whose team improved to 12-17 this summer. "Our pitching staff is getting a feel out there, especially our kids who had red-shirt years. They're regaining their command and throwing more strikes. We caught the ball a little better and we're getting timely hitting."
Most of the games on the Volunteers schedule this summer have been against collegiate teams. The Vols have taken their lumps against older players.
The teams Merced has played in its last two tournaments are closer to the level of competition it will see at the American Legion State Tournament in Yountville later this month.
Steven Loa pitched four scoreless innings in relief to pick up the victory in a 10-6 win over the Orange Lutheran in the tournament opener on July 11.
The following day the Volunteers had strong outings from pitchers like Jared Reyna and Tyler Skinner to defeat Burkburnett of Texas, 6-0 and the Legacy Longhorns of Las Vegas, 6-4.
Reyna struck out six, walked two and gave up just three hits in the 6-0 win. Efrain Del Rio went 3 for 4 at the plate with three RBIs to lead the offense against Burkburnett. Justin Prichard added three hits, including a pair of doubles.
Skinner picked up the win against Legacy and Chad May came in to pick up the save.
On Saturday the Volunteers picked up another two wins with a 9-1 win over Durango and a 6-5 win over San Clemente.
Del Rio was in control on the mound from start to finish against Durango. Adams said one of the best high school legion teams the Vols faced all summer was San Clemente, which Merced defeated 6-5 on Saturday.
The Volunteers jumped out to a 4-0 lead against San Clemente and then held on for the win.
Merced's success in Las Vegas was even more impressive when you consider they won despite missing some key players.
"We've got a couple more games before we head to state so I can get a look at what might be our lineup for game one in Yountville," Adams said. "I think this team is going to score some runs. Once we got some leads, the kids were able to relax and have some fun."
The Volunteers are back in action tonight against the Sacramento Legends at Merced College at 7.
Merced heads to Yountville for the state tournament on July 27.