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Rainout may help Turlock Baseball

Turlock High's baseball program got a gift from Mother Nature, as Thursday's storm postponed the Bulldogs' Sac-Joaquin Section regional final game against St. Mary's.

The teams will play Tuesday, allowing pitching-depleted Turlock to send Oklahoma State-bound Vince Wheeland to the mound one more time.

It could not be played this evening because Turlock is graduating, and University of the Pacific's baseball stadium is not available Saturday.

Johansen also had its championship game vs. Elk Grove rescheduled for tonight at 5 at the Sacramento Softball Complex. Since softball pitchers frequently throw two games in a night, the delay is not expected to affect either team.

Baseball, with its pitching limit, is a different story.

"We face long odds, but having Vince fully rested puts us in better shape," Turlock coach Mark de la Motte said. "He makes the defense better because he gets strikeouts and gets other guys to hit into weak outs."

Wheeland is second in California with 12 wins — the state leader has 13 — and is one of three pitchers at 12-0. He has a 0.72 ERA and has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his 12 starts.

He threw a complete-game six-hitter Monday, and section rules limit pitchers to 10 innings in a calendar week. Had he pitched Thursday — and with two days rest, it's quite unlikely — he would have been capped at three innings.

Turlock (23-7) must beat St. Mary's (24-6) twice to reach the section championship series vs. the Sacramento-area champ, and that will require at least 14 innings of pitching.

The Bulldogs' No. 2 pitcher is freshman Nick Voumard, and he fired a complete game to beat Beyer 3-1 in Wednesday's losers' bracket final. He would have been unavailable Thursday, de la Motte said.

Voumard went once a week for the junior varsity during the regular season, said de la Motte, and his status will be evaluated Monday afternoon.

St. Mary's benefits by being able to use Cal-bound Louie Lechich (6-1, 1.64) — he started Monday's win over Beyer — for 10 innings on Tuesday. The Rams were in much better shape for a Thursday game because No. 2 starter Kurt Smith (8-2, 1.99) is a college recruit and beat Turlock 12-2 a week ago.

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