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Baseball Section Title Game: Buhach Colony up against a mighty wall

STOCKTON -- Moments after the game, Justin Koehler had already started thinking about today.

Friday's 5-2 loss to Jesuit in the first game of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship series was already on its way to becoming a forgotten memory for the Buhach Colony senior.

Koehler and his teammates felt they let a game get away.

For good reason.

"All that matters is (today)," Koehler said. "It's over with. We're going to come out and play our hearts out."

Buhach Colony's Brett Mooneyham and Connor Oldcorn held Jesuit's high-powered offense to just four hits. However, nine walks, three hit batters and a key error at the wrong time sealed BC's fate as Jesuit (26-6) extended its winning streak to 23 games.

"I'm sure in their dugout, they don't feel like we won. They feel like they gave it to us," Jesuit coach Joe Potulny said. "They're not leaving this park in awe of us. They feel if they can get a run here and a run there and throw more strikes, they can win."

Andrew Susac and Dan Hayes combined to go 4 for 5 at the plate. The rest of Jesuit's lineup went 0 for 16.

Both Susac and Hayes collected two hits apiece and each time they came back-to-back.

Susac doubled off the left-field wall in the first and came around to score on a Hayes single off Mooneyham in the first.

Koehler tied the game with solo homer in the bottom of the first. However, the Susac-Hayes tandem struck again for a run in the fourth inning when Susac tripled and Hayes doubled him in to give Jesuit a 2-1 lead.

"They're No. 3 and 4 hitters swing good bats," Mooneyham said. "I threw them a couple too many fastballs. The second time through the order I should have mixed it up a little more."

BC's plan was to go with Mooneyham and close with right-hander Dylan Floro if it had a lead late.

Things fell apart for Mooneyham in the fifth inning when he walked Jesuit's bottom two hitters to open the inning. A sacrifice moved the runners to second and third and the Stanford-bound senior appeared to catch a break when Jesuit's Kyle Homme hit a short pop fly to right that was going to be too shallow to score the runner from third.

However, the ball popped out of Floro's glove in right and Jesuit took a 3-1 lead.

Mooneyham later walked in run and hit another with the bases loaded as Jesuit extended the lead to 5-1.

"I walked the eight and nine hitters, but I still felt pretty good," said Mooneyham, who finished with 10 strikeouts and seven walks in five innings of work.

"It was first and second with one out. I've gotten out of that before. A passed ball and an error, there's nothing you can do about that. This time of night, it's hard to see pop flies. That's baseball. It happens."

Meanwhile, offensively Buhach Colony (27-6) collected nine hits, but failed to get the big hit with runners on base. BC had runners reach base in each inning, but couldn't break through against Jesuit right-hander Brock Simon.

"We were all on the edge of our toes waiting for something to fall in for us," Koehler said. "We had a couple tough breaks. The ball didn't bounce our way today."

Buhach Colony now must bounce back and win two games today to win the section title. The first game is at noon with Floro expected to get the start.

"We're going to come ready to play," Fitzgerald said. "We knew what we were facing. We weren't surprised or intimidated. When you play a quality baseball team like that you can't give them too many outs. When you do, it's difficult to stay in the game."

Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championship Series

Buhach Colony vs. Jesuit

FRIDAY: Jesuit 5, Buhach Colony 2, Jesuit leads best-of-three series 1-0

SATURDAY: Game 2, noon ; Game 3 (if necessary) to follow.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Buhach will need to win both games today or Jesuit will be crowned the Division I section champ for the fourth time in the school's history. Jesuit won the title in '94, '96 and 2001.

ALSO OF NOTE: So when's the last time a Merced County team won the section title? Merced defeated Elk Grove in 2002 in three games. Merced also won in '78 over Yuba City.