Chris Pedretti couldn't help but beam a little bit.
Pitching and defense is the mantra he and his staff have preached to the Merced College baseball team time and again.
Solano College got a taste of how frustrating that combo can be on Tuesday afternoon, as the Blue Devils executed both to near perfection.
MC got a quality outing from starting pitcher Shawn Stuart and some sensational defensive efforts in a 3-2 nonconference victory over Solano.
"These are the kinds of games we want to win," Pedretti said. "A nice, tight, competitive ballgame."
Defense was the difference maker.
Second baseman Garrett Borba had a spectacular diving catch on a shallow pop fly, shortstop Ruben Perez came up with a sliding backhander, first baseman Hunter Adrian somehow came up with an errant pick-off attempt and completed the play with a cartwheel over the runner and Anthony Jakosa gunned down anyone who dared run.
"When the defense is making plays like that, it's hard not to be confident on the mound," Stuart said. "It's fun to be a part of a ballgame like that."
Solano's Chris Curtis had a run-scoring double off of Stuart in the first inning, but the freshman from Denair settled down after that.
Stuart limited Solano to two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, earning his second win of the season.
Solano starter Kellen Simmons didn't enjoy the same kind of defensive support.
The Falcons (4-4) committed five errors in the game, and the Blue Devils were able to take advantage.
Adrian scored to tie the game in the bottom of the first as Solano committed consecutive errors.
Poor defense allowed MC (6-3) to take the lead in the third, when Brooks Beatty advanced to third after his single was booted by left fielder Graeme Agate.
Adrian drove Beatty in with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.
Kiley Kawazoe put the Blue Devils up for good three pitches later, belting his second home run of the season over the right-field fence.
"It was just a fastball inside," Kawazoe said. "I was just looking for that one pitch and I got it."
Kyle Bible cut MC's lead to 3-2 with a solo home run in the fourth, but the Blue Devil bullpen shut things down from there.
Sean Fasig, Cameron Martin and Bradin Hagens combined to allow just one hit in the last 3 1/3 innings.
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MERCED COLLEGE 3,
SOLANO COLLEGE 2
At Merced College
Solano 100 100 000 -- 2 5 5
Merced 102 000 000 -- 3 6 1
Kellen Simmons, Scott Krutel (6), Matt Aboumrad (7), Tommy Popucci (8), TJ Marquez (8) and Kyle Bible. Shawn Stuart, Sean Fasig (6), Cameron Martin (8), Bradin Hagens (9) and anthony Jakosa. WP -- Stuart 2-0. LP -- Simmons. S -- Hagens 1.
SOLANO -- Chris Curtis 2B (RBI), Bible HR (RBI), Greg Henry 2B.
MERCED -- Kiley Kawazoe HR (RBI), Kory Vitato 2-3 (2B).
Records: Solano 4-4; Merced 6-3.