Pitman slips past Atwater

TURLOCK — Atwater tried taking extra bases. It tried to steal, tried to hit-and-run and tried to bunt for base hits.

Anything Jarrod Pimentel's team could do to put pressure on the Pitman defense — but the Pride never buckled.

Atwater couldn't say the same: A first-inning error led to three runs as Pitman got a a 3-1 Central California Conference victory Wednesday.

"We had one bad inning and played well the rest of the way," Pimentel said. "We started slowly, but the difference in how we played from last week to now was tremendous. The kids are starting to buy into what we're saying. We just didn't do enough to win."

Pitman starter Clay Cozzitorto (4-1) helped see to that. He tossed his fourth complete game while striking out a career-high 11. Coming into the game, Cozzitorto had just 18 strikeouts in 30 innings.

"We didn't put enough balls in play, but give (Cozzitorto) credit," said Pimentel, whose Falcons (5-7 overall) dropped their CCC opener. "He threw strikes and challenged us."

In Cozzitorto's last start, he scattered eight hits in a 7-1 victory over Golden Valley.

The win keeps Pitman (10-4, 3-0) in first place, and the two play today at Atwater before taking next week off to play in Easter tournaments.

Cozzitorto wasn't the only hurler frustrating hitters.

Atwater junior Armando Garcia made sure the Falcons stayed closed enough to win, had their bats cooperated.

Garcia limited the Pride to just six hits in six innings — Pitman didn't hit in the seventh.

Garcia's only real trouble came in the first when he surrendered an infield single and a walk to open the game.

Garcia rebounded by inducing a hard ground ball by Pitman's A.J. Derr, a shot that went right to shortstop Donovan Molina. He couldn't handle the ball, however, and a possible double-play ball turned into a bases-loaded opportunity with no outs.

A wild pitch scored Zac Olsen from third base, then Pitman played "little ball" to produce the next two runs.

Following a strikeout for the first out, sophomore Steven Kha singled on a well-placed suicide squeeze bunt and Mike Lopes followed with a run-scoring safety squeeze.

Garcia got the Falcons on the board with a solo home run in the seventh.

"Our coach has been telling us we can't live in the past," Garcia said. "We (needed to) put the first inning behind us and kept playing. We didn't get it done, but we gave ourselves a chance."