Tanner McBurney had only six at-bats coming into this week.
The Merced High junior made his case Wednesday to get his name into the lineup more often.
McBurney collected three hits and scored two runs to help lead the Bears to an 11-1 win over Livingston in the 54th Annual Fran Oneto/Atwater-Winton Lions Easter Baseball Tournament.
“Tanner is a guy we’ve brought along slowly,” Merced coach Justin Parle said. “He’s a football player. He was a little rusty. We’ve made some mechanical changes to his swing.
“He’s an athlete. He has good hand-eye coordination and you saw that today with him putting the bat on the ball. Typically he hasn’t been a starter, but it’s going to be hard to keep him out.”
McBurney is 4 for 6 in the tournament.
“I’ve been working hard trying to improve and keep getting better,” McBurney said. “It’s tough. There are a lot of good guys on this team. You just have to compete when you get your at-bats.”
McBurney’s three hits led the Bears’ 12-hit attack against the Wolves (9-6).
McBurney highlighted Merced’s three-run third inning with a run-scoring single. With two outs, McBurney broke early from first base to get in a rundown. McBurney eventually beat the throw to second as Josh May scored from third to give the Bears (9-8) a 4-0 lead.
Merced put the game away with a six-run sixth inning as it took advantage of three Livingston errors. The game was stopped after six innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Alex Ortega and Derek Alva each had RBI singles during the rally.
Joseph Salmeri and Ortega finished with two hits for the Bears, who improved to 2-1 in the tournament.
“I definitely had a better feeling after this game compared to (Tuesday),” Parle said. “It had nothing to do with the outcome. It had more to do about our attitudes going into the game.
“We got an early lead again and this time we stayed in the game.”
Merced senior Matt Smith went the distance on the mound to pick up the win, giving up just four hits and one run.
Brian Perez knocked in the Wolves’ only run with an infield single in the fourth inning. Livingston dropped to 1-2 in the tournament.
Merced will be back in action today at 3 p.m. against Minarets. The Wolves finish up the tournament against Moreau at 10 a.m.