SACRAMENTO -- With Nick Vander Tuig on the bench with a tight shoulder, Oakdale High dug deeper into its staff for a starter in Saturday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal.
Placer capitalized on that by scoring three early runs for a 4-2 upset of the two-time defending section champion,
"Nick was a little tight and we didn't want to take a chance with him," coach Hondo Arpoika said. "It tightened up on him in Sonora (last week), so we shut him down."
The best-of-three series resumes Wednesday, with Placer (18-8) and Oakdale (25-4) playing at 3 p.m. at McAuliffe Field in Sacramento.
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Arpoika plans to start Vander Tuig (8-1, 0.82), then use ace Justin Jones (11-0, 0.42) in what he hopes will be the decisive third game later that night.
Placer got a run in the first and loaded the bases with no outs in the third, bringing in sophomore reliever Brennon Williams. He gave up a two-run single to Anthony Amara to give Placer a 3-1 lead.
Amara scattered six hits in going the distance, striking out 12 -- Oakdale's highest strikeout total of the season.
"Twelve strikeouts, uncharacteristsic for us, and we had a few balls on the line where we didn't get the bounce," Arpoika said. "Sometimes those balls land fair for a double."
Oakdale cut its deficit to 3-2 with a run in the fifth. Craig Lefebvre walked and stole second, and after moving to third on a groundout, scored on Vince Helms' single.
Placer had a runner on third with two out in the bottom of the sixth, and an error allowed the insurance run.
Amara (5-1, 1.81) kept the ball around the plate, Arpoika said, and mixed in curves to frustrate the Mustangs.
HILMAR 15, PATTERSON 3, at Lodi -- The Yellojackets took the first game in a best-of-3 series from a Western Athletic Conference rival. The teams meet again Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Zupo Field.
Raine Martinez pitched a three-hitter, striking out four and inducing a lot of ground-outs. A.J. Martinez knocked in three with a double in Hilmar's five-run second inning.
"Hilmar has never been to a section title game," coach Justin Steelman said. "It's really big to be one win away from going for the first time, especially for me being a first-year coach."
Bee staff writers contributed to this report.