Livingston hitters pound MC

LODI — Matt Winton didn't have much of a scouting report on Modesto Christian or its starting pitcher Dustin Hayes.

What the Livingston coach did hear was Hayes possessed an above-average fastball.

Livingston took the patient approach, laying off Hayes' high heat and forcing him to come into the strike zone.

It paid off as Livingston drew seven walks and a couple clutch hits in three-plus inning, chasing Hayes early in an 8-3 victory in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 Playoffs at Tony Zupo Field on Thursday afternoon.

Three straight walks by Hayes loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first inning. Hayes looked like he might escape the jam after striking out Jacob Penrod for the second out. However, Gurpreet Sangha blooped a single into shallow right field to plate Fernando Carillo and Fernando Alcazar, giving Livingston an early 2-0 lead.

"That was huge with two outs," Winton said. "We had the bases loaded for a while. If they get out of it, it's a huge lift for them. Gurpreet gorks one in and we get two runs and that helps us settle in."

Modesto Christian (9-16) powered its way back into the game, cutting the lead to 4-3 in the fourth. But pitcher DJ Jantz' comfort level soared when Livingston scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning for the final tally. Alcazar delivered the big blow when he greeted MC reliever Nathan O'Leary with a two-run single.

Soon Livingston was celebrating its first playoff win since 2005.

Livingston will face the winner of Escalon-Bret Harte on Saturday at noon back at Tony Zupo Field in the first of a best-of-three semifinal series.