Merced College baseball coach Chris Pedretti got almost everything he wanted Thursday evening.
Construction of the new backstop on MC's field finished on time -- and the thing looks immaculate.
About 350 spectators turned out under the lights for the Blue Devils' Central Valley Conference first-place showdown with Fresno City.
And both teams treated the fans to a well-played game.
The only thing missing from Pedretti's wish list was a clutch hit.
MC failed to produce a single hit with runners in scoring position and Fresno City moved back atop the CVC standings with a 7-2 victory.
"They made some good plays defensively, but they just out-hit us," Pedretti said. "We have to bounce back for a big game Saturday and then we have (Fresno) again on Tuesday."
MC (9-2 CVC, 22-6 overall) certainly had its shot to get back into the contest, despite trailing 4-2 in the seventh.
Scott Uehara singled to spark a two-out rally and the Blue Devils eventually loaded the bases.
John Canepa was called upon to pinch hit, but Fresno's Danny Mora struck him out.
MC didn't have another batter reach base.
Canepa's at-bat capped MC's 0-for-5 performance with runners in scoring position. Both runs the Rams surrendered resulted from errors.
"We felt like if we could get that hit in the seventh the floodgates would open," MC catcher Wes Borba said. "It started early and we were just never able to get the bats going."
That wasn't a problem for Borba's counterpart, Mitch Karraker.
Fresno's freshman catcher scorched the ball every time up, including a solo home run in the top of the eighth which put to rest any Blue Devil comeback hopes.
Karraker bumped up his stellar .424 average, going 3 for 4 and driving in three runs.
Fresno (10-1 CVC, 24-7) tacked on a pair of runs in the ninth to break things open.
Rams coach Ron Scott was pleased with the win, but kept things in perspective.
"Merced's a good team, so it's a good win for us," Scott said. "But they could beat us Tuesday and be tied again.
"There's still a lot of baseball to play."
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.