Matt Carrigg hadn’t heard the Atwater score before he took the mound against Merced on Friday night. The Pitman sophomore didn’t want to know.
His focus was on the Bears and it showed as he pitched a four-hit shutout to keep the Pride’s postseason hopes alive with a 5-0 win.
“I had no idea what the score was,” Carrigg said. “I don’t think any of the players wanted to know. I wanted to go out there without knowing.”
Atwater’s 7-5 win over Turlock earlier in the day meant Pitman had to beat Merced to stay in the playoff hunt. The Pride (15-10 overall, 8-6 Central California Conference) is now tied with the Falcons for the third playoff spot with one game to go.
Atwater holds the tiebreaker over Pitman, so the Pride need to defeat Turlock on Wednesday and have Buhach Colony upset the Falcons.
“We knew we were facing the top three teams in the league the last week and a half,” Pitman coach John Acha said. “We knew we needed to win. If we play good ball, we’ll have a chance to win or at least compete. Now we’ve got one game to go.”
Merced coach Justin Parle was more concerned about the eight free passes issued by the Bears pitchers that helped set up the early runs by Pitman.
“Walks, free passes, that’s the number one variable when we lose,” said Parle, whose team dropped to 15-10 and 10-4.
Pitman had runners on base early and often against Merced starter Mitchell Miller. Zach Wichman hit an RBI triple in the top of the third inning and Brent Gonzalves followed with a run-scoring single to open up a 4-0 lead for the Pride.
The runs were more than enough for Carrigg, who breezed through the first four innings. He had to get a strikeout to strand the bases loaded in the fifth, but he had plenty in the tank to go the distance. He finished with nine strikeouts and just two walks.