STOCKTON — Daulton Jefferies was in a zone.
The chants out of the Beyer dugout didn’t faze him. His own
As far as the Buhach Colony ace was concerned it was just him and his catcher Kevin Mendoza on the field, and for a long stretch of the game that was all the Thunder needed.
Jefferies struck out 11 of 12 batters at one point on his way to a 13-strikeout performance as Buhach Colony defeated Beyer 6-1 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 South playoffs on Thursday night at Klein Family Field.
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“My teammates weren’t saying anything to me in the dugout,” Jefferies said. “It was a like a no-hitter. I just tried to stay in my zone. When it’s like that, I don’t hear anything. I just try to execute my pitches as much as possible. I’m just really calm.“I like being in the zone.”
Jefferies struck out six straight hitters from the end of the first to the start of the third inning. He then walked Beyer’s Dempsey Grover and followed that with five consecutive strikeouts.
“He painted the outside corner, he got on top of the strike zone and just overpowered us,” said Beyer coach Mitch Munthe. “He had good command of his offspeed pitches.”
Meanwhile, the Thunder offense jumped on Patriots left-hander Trey Ridenour early.
Kert Woods drew a four-pitch walk to start the bottom of the first and was balked to second base. Buhach’s Leonard Aue then dropped down a bunt. Ridenour picked the ball up, looked to third and then turned and airmailed a throw over the head of Beyer first baseman Cameron Godfrey. Woods scored on the play and Aue ended up on second.
Jefferies then drew a walk. One out later, Ridenour threw a wild pitch that allowed Aue to score. Buhach’s Bradley Bertuccio then crushed an RBI double off the left-field wall to give the Thunder (21-7) a 3-0 lead.
“It’s always big to get those runs early,” Buhach Colony coach Greg Wakefield said. “Everyone is nervous at the beginning of the game. I know Daulton was nervous going out there in the beginning. We knew Beyer has good pitchers and the best time to get to good pitchers is early in the game.”
Buhach tacked on two more runs in the third inning on Mendoza run-scoring single and a Beyer error on a ground ball off the bat of Steven Loa.
“The first inning has been a little shaky at times for us and today was one of those times,” Munthe said. “Down 3-0 to a pitcher like Jefferies, you’re in for a long day. We didn’t make enough noise against him early when we had a chance.”
Jefferies gave up five hits and two walks. He gave way to Brian Womack, who gave up a hit to Austin Weick before striking out the final hitter to end the game.
The Thunder now move on to the double-elimination portion of the playoffs. Buhach will face Tracy, which defeated Tokay 7-2, on Saturday at Klein Family Field. The first pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
“It feels great to still be playing,” Jefferies said. “It’s a big motivator to practice for 10 days and then play a good team like Beyer. It’s a big confidence booster for us.”