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Hits elusive for Golden Valley

STOCKTON -- This one hurt much more than any other loss this year for Ralf Vasquez.

For four months, Vasquez had spent just about every day with his Golden Valley teammates. Now it was suddenly over.

Lincoln ended the season for Vasquez and Golden Valley with a 4-1 win on Monday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs at the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field.

Vasquez and his teammates shared hugs and handshakes as they came to grips with the end of their season. For Vasquez and 10 other seniors, it was the end of their high school careers.

"It's really tough," Vasquez said. "It's a hard thing because I've played with most of these guys since I was 8 or 9 years old.

"It's tough because I've known them so long. You form such a strong bond. These guys are like my family. I was lucky to play with these guys."

The hits just didn't drop in for Golden Valley.

Lincoln's Brandon Gildea and John Oberholtzer held Golden Valley (15-15) to just one first-inning single.

Still, GV had its chance to score with the help of six walks in the first four innings. However, Golden Valley left five of those runners on base, including the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

"We had one hit, but we had a lot of good at-bats," Golden Valley coach Scott Solis said. "We walked a lot. When the pitcher is not throwing you strikes, you take what you can get.

"But we needed two or three hits in those scoring opportunities."

Golden Valley did cash in on a walk in the first inning. Vasquez walked to lead off the game and moved over to third on Dom Johnson's single to left field. It was GV's only hit in the game.

Vasquez scored on a ground out by Alex Fletcher to give GV the early 1-0 lead.

Fletcher made the lead stand up as the senior right-hander pitched in and out of trouble through the first four innings.

Finally, in the bottom of the fifth, Lincoln broke through.

With one out, Stevie Robinson and Tyler Sullivan set the table with singles and moved up to second and third on a wild pitch.

Anthony Garcia then lined a two-run single that put Lincoln ahead 2-1. John Bowling followed Garcia's hit with a run-scoring triple to chase Fletcher from the game. By the end of the fifth, Lincoln extended the lead to 4-1.

"I don't think I was ever cruising along," Fletcher said. "They're a good team and they can hit the ball. I left a couple pitches up and they hit them."

Oberholtzer took over for Gildea in the fifth inning and kept the GV offense under control.

The left-hander retired nine of the 10 hitters he faced. Only Phillip Greenberg reached base and that was on a catcher's interference call in the sixth inning.

"We left a lot of guys on base," Vasquez said. "If we get one or two hits in those spots, we probably score four or five runs and win this ballgame.

"It's baseball. Sometimes the baseball doesn't roll toward your dugout."

Lincoln will advance to play the loser of today's game between St. Mary's and Tracy on Wednesday night.

Golden Valley's run is over.

"It's like I told the guys after the game," Solis said. "There are about 50 Division I teams that aren't even here right now. We made it here and we did a great job getting here.

"There were plenty of times this year where we could have packed it in and we didn't. It was a lot of fun."

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