With the bases loaded and no out in the bottom of the seventh, and his team clinging to a three-run lead, Modesto High coach Daryl Galloway needed a pitcher to come in and throw strikes.
"We had a game like this last year against Enochs," Galloway said. "We led 10-5 going into the seventh inning, but lost 14-10. I didn't want to see that again."
So he called on John Brandt, a reliable reliever who hadn't allowed a run in his last three appearances, to set down the heart of Enochs' power-laden lineup.
That included cleanup hitter Brian Dix and Mitch Kelly, in the No. 5 hole to prevent teams from pitching around Dix. The Eagles' top two hitters, both are capable of clearing the fences.
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Brandt kept both inside the park, though, retiring them on long line drives and then ending it with a catch of his own to seal a stunning 7-5 win at Enochs.
"I don't want us to get too far ahead of ourselves, but I think it was a big win today," Galloway said. "We've put together four solid games in a row, and I think that's really going to help these kids build up their confidence."
The win didn't come without plenty of excitement, however.
Starter Jesse Cruz (2-1) took a 7-4 lead into the seventh. Facing the top of the lineup, he gave up two walks and a single. Brandt, with a 1.56 ERA in four relief appearances, knew the situation.
Dix is a beast at the plate with four homers and 12 RBIs, Kelly bats .500 and his 11 RBIs are second to Dix. No. 6 hitter Donnie Fairchilds is a .400 hitter over the last three games.
Brandt retired all three batters, but none were easy outs.
Dix hit a liner that left fielder Anthony Salinas ran down, but it was deep enough to get in a run to make it 7-5. After a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Kelly blasted a similar shot to right -- but Zach Yoppini saved the day.
Not only did Yoppini make a fine running catch, a quick throw to catcher Zach Snowden convinced the runner on third to hold. Had the runners moved up, the potential tying run would have been 90 feet away -- adding even more pressure to an already tense situation.
Fairchilds then ripped a liner up the middle, but Brandt threw his glove in front of the ball. His move of self-preservation produced the last out.
"We've emphasized defense so I'm proud of that seventh inning," said Galloway, whose Panthers (3-6-2, 1-2 MMC) nearly upset conference-leading Beyer on Tuesday.
While the combination of pitching and defense was impressive -- Enochs was averaging 11.5 runs over its previous four games -- Modesto owed this win to its lineup.
Enochs (6-5, 2-1) had no solution for No. 3 hitter Calvin Thomas, 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. His RBI single capped a four-run fifth, making it 7-4. Modesto's top hitter a year ago, Thomas is tearing up pitchers this spring with his .417 average and power. He had a bad at-bat Thursday, a pop fly to second on his second trip to the plate, but quickly corrected that flaw.
"I dipped when I swung at it, a little too anxious," Thomas said. "I've got to stay back and wait for that pitch to come in to me. I focused on that for the rest of the game."
Thomas had hits in his final three at-bats. His run-scoring single in the fifth followed a two-run single by Brandt, which had snapped a 4-all tie.
"It's good to see us hitting," said Thomas, whose club was batting .237 before getting nine hits versus Enochs. "That's what we had been missing."