Kurt Ferreira didn't bunt all spring.
However, that's exactly what the recent Hilmar High graduate had on his mind when he stepped to the plate in the fifth inning.
Ferreira had just watched Los Banos' Jalen Bourbon score to tie the game 4-4.
On the second pitch, the suicide squeeze play was on as Livingston's Brian Alvarez broke from third base. Ferreira laid down a perfect bunt and beat the throw to first for the hit as the North took a 5-4 lead.
Ferreira's bunt proved to be the difference as the North squeaked past the South in the Merced County North/South All-Star Game in front of a large crowd Saturday night at Merced College.
"I had decided I was going to bunt even if the squeeze wasn't called," Ferreira said. "I thought it would surprise them."
Hilmar coach Justin Steelman did indeed put on the play on the second pitch.
The stars from Merced County put on a good show.
There were some dazzling plays in the field, led by a diving catch in left-center field by Merced's Andrew Jaurique to rob Los Banos' Matt Nunes of a double in the second inning.
Le Grand freshman Carlo Del Real made a nifty backhanded play in the first inning at second base for the South to rob Livingston's Charles Brown of a hit.
Brown's Livingston teammate Chris Cacal then delivered some payback when he made a diving catch at second to rob Del Real in the fifth inning.
"It was a game -- that's what everybody came to see," said Jaurique, who was named the South Player of the Game after going 2 for 2 with two runs.
"They made a good comeback. All these all-stars take their games seriously. We all wanted to win."
The South jumped out to the early lead as Del Real doubled in the first to score Jaurique. Dos Palos catcher Ryan Yriarte extended the South lead to 3-0, driving in Mariposa's Austin Garibay and Nick Leard with a two-run double in the second inning.
Los Banos' Derrick Velasquez launched a solo homer off of Leard in the bottom of the second to get the North on the board.
"I was looking for a fastball," said Velasquez, who was named the North Player of the Game after collecting two hits and driving in a pair of runs. "I didn't want to go get deep into the count and let him throw his junk.
"He started me off with a curveball and then I got my fastball."
Trailing 4-2, the North struck for three runs in the fifth inning off of Del Real.
A walk, an error and a couple of wild pitches later and the score was tied at 4-all to set the stage for Ferreira's squeeze play.
The two teams will team up to face the Stanislaus County All-Stars on July 3 at Merced College at 3 p.m.