STOCKTON — Mark de la Motte waited until the end of Tuesday's practice to tell freshman Nick Voumard he would be the starting pitcher in Wednesday's playoff game against Beyer.
It was a veteran move by Turlock High's veteran coach, who wasn't exactly sure how the youngster would react to making his first varsity start in such a pressure-packed situation.
As it turns out, Voumard appeared to be the coolest player at the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field.
The righty limited Beyer to three hits in a complete-game performance as the Bulldogs survived another round in the Division 1 Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with a 3-1 victory.
"I went up to him and said 'If I tell you you're going to start tomorrow will you be able to sleep tonight?' and he said he'd be fine and he was," de la Motte said. "A gutsy job."
Turlock (23-7) will play again today at 5 p.m. at UOP against St. Mary's, which pasted the Bulldogs 12-2 on Friday in a second-round game. Should the Bulldogs win that game, a second would follow 30 minutes later.
Turlock and Beyer might have played well into the night if not for a key call late in Wednesday's game. Voumard and Beyer senior lefty Kyle Crawford were locked in a 1-1 pitchers' duel into the bottom of the sixth, when Crawford walked Ryan Brown on four pitches.
With two outs and Jeremy McDonald at the plate, Brown took off for second base on Crawford's first movement. He was picked off by Crawford's delayed move and easily tagged out at second base for what would have been the third out.
But the home plate umpire waited until the tag was made, then called a balk on Crawford. McDonald came through with a triple into the right field corner and scored on a wild pitch.
"He (Crawford) has used that same move all year long," Clark said. "Whether he balked there or not was the umpire's decision."
Turlock took a 1-0 lead in the first when Kevin Kramer launched Crawford's fourth pitch over the wall in right-center for his sixth home run of the season. Kramer would follow with two doubles to account for three of the Bulldogs' five hits.
Beyer (21-10) answered in the third when Dempsey Grover walked and eventually scored on Mason Ankeney's ground ball. But from that point on the Patriots would get only two more baserunners off Voumard.
"I was a little nervous, being a freshman," said Voumard, who struck out four, walked two and hit a batter. "I knew if I hit my spots I'd be OK because of the great defense that was playing behind me."
It wasn't Voumard's first varsity appearance. He was promoted by de la Motte in the final week of the regular season and threw one inning against Atwater on May 14. He also threw a scoreless inning in last Friday's loss to St. Mary's.
"He wasn't all I had left, but he's been really good this year and he pitched well for me last summer," de la Motte said. "He dominated at the lower levels.
"But we knew we had to win two more games if we won today, which meant he would have to be out here sometime. He just stepped up and played great."
He added that the decision had not been made as to who would start today's first game against St. Mary's. But de la Motte did know who would be available for mound duty.
"Everybody," he said. "We have a lot of guys who can throw. Because of travel ball we have a lot of guys who can play a lot of positions. I have five catchers and six pitchers, but I'm going to have to sleep on that decision."
The coach said he'll sleep like a baby. Or maybe a freshman.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.