FAIRFIELD Efrain Del Rio wasn't happy with the way he was hitting the ball with an aluminum bat, so the Merced Volunteers cleanup hitter went back to wood.
The change paid off when Del Rio crushed a three-run double in the top of the third inning. It was the start of a big game for the Dos Palos High star as he went 2 for 3 at the plate with four RBIs and also pitched a complete game as the Volunteers defeated Fair Oaks 11-2 on Friday afternoon at the Western Amateur Baseball Federation Tournament.
The win salvaged an otherwise frustrating tournament that saw the Volunteers (7-16) lose three other winnable games, including a 9-7 loss to Oroville earlier July 5.
"Hopefully winning this last game gives us a little momentum heading to Las Vegas this week," Merced coach Rollo Adams said. "I thought we played well enough to win all four games."
The Volunteers gave Del Rio plenty of run support when they blew the game open with seven runs in the fourth inning. Robbie Dallas delivered a big two-run triple and Chad May launched a three-run homer over the right-field fence during the seven-run outburst.
May, who was converted to a pitcher during his red-shirt season at Merced College, hasn't been able to swing the bat much this summer.
"I think I have maybe 20 at-bats this summer," Mays said. "The hardest part is getting your timing, but that ball felt good off the bat. He threw the same pitch that I whiffed on earlier."
Dallas, Derek Slate, Del Rio and Brian Womack all had two hits to lead the Volunteers' 12-hit attack. Dallas scored three runs.
Del Rio gave up just one earned run in seven innings. He struck out six and scattered seven hits.
"I felt good out there today," Del Rio said. "It's been a while since I've pitched. It's been about two or three weeks so I felt strong."