Clayton Hall rarely shows any emotion on the baseball field. That wasn’t the case on Friday night.
The Merced High senior had reason to celebrate as he rounded the bases after hitting a grand slam that erased a 2-run deficit in the fifth inning and supplied all the offense as the Bears defeated Buhach Colony 4-3 at Merced High.
“On that one I screamed and clapped a few times,” Hall said. “I was pumped up.”
It was the first time Hall had ever hit a home run in high school. So when he hit it, he was thinking double. He really never slowed down going around the bases.
“I’ve never hit an in-game home run, so I have no idea what a home run feels like,” Hall said. “I was rounding first, watching coach (Tynan) Pedretti. He let me know it was a home run.”
Buhach Colony Clay Abrams had shut down the Bears offense up to that point. The Thunder senior had struck out seven and had given up only one hit through the first four innings.
Buhach Colony had pushed across a run in the first and a run in the top of the fifth to take a 2-0 lead.
The Bears (6-12, 1-2 Central California Conference) then set the stage for Hall in the fifth.
Nate Rios doubled with one out and pinch-hitter Kyle Hair was hit by a pitch. Pedretti thought about bunting with Julien Daughdrill, but he thought Buhach Colony wouldn’t pitch to Hall with first base open.
Pedretti let Daugdrill hit and he singled to load the bases.
Hall fell behind 0-2 early, but then crushed a slider over the left-field fence to clear the bases and give Merced a 4-2 lead.
“A big swing by a big-time player,” Pedretti said. “He works his (butt) off every single day. He’s a grinder. It’s good to see a guy like that be rewarded.”
Hall is a third-year varsity player. He’s the guy Pedretti wants up there in a big situation.
“He’s the heart of our team,” Pedretti said. “Our team rolls of how he’s doing. If he struggles, our team struggles. He’s growing into that leadership role for us. He’s learning to be that leader.”
The Bears fed off Hall’s energy after the slam as the Merced dugout came to life.
Bears junior right-hander Julian Torres gave the team five strong inning. Nate Rios came on in relief to start the sixth inning.
The Thunder threatened to erase the lead quickly as Alex Kendrick led off the sixth with a triple and scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 4-3.
Buhach Colony (12-6, 2-1) had runners on the corners with one out when Pedretti called on Xavier Stewart to get out of the jam. Stewart got BC’s Matt Vang to hit a soft liner back to the mound that he caught and then doubled off the runner on first to end the sixth inning.
The Thunder then loaded the bases in the seventh inning, but Stewart closed the door with a ground out to end the game.
“This team has fought all year long, it’s good to see them rewarded for their effort,” Pedretti said. “We’ve talked about fighting and finding a way. They were able to get a win against a good Buhach team.”
El Capitan 4, Golden Valley 0 in Merced – Sophomore Anthony Perez pitched a three-hit shutout at Doug Fister Field as the Gauchos won their first CCC game after opening with two losses against Buhach Colony.
Pitman 6, Atwater 3 in Turlock – Tyler Stout had two hits, including a triple, and scored two runs as the Pride defeated the Falcons. Stout also went the distance on the mound, striking out five and scattering six hits.
Golden Valley 10, Buhach Colony 0 in Atwater – Marissa Bertuccio threw a perfect game in a contest that was stopped after five innings because of the mercy rule. Bertuccio also had three hits to help herself at the plate. Nini Aranda also had two hits for GV (3-2 CCC).
Le Grand 13, Gustine 3 in Le Grand – Alondra Ceja went 4 for 4 at the plate and Alexis Aguallo and Cindy Zaragoza added three hits each as the Bulldogs improved to 3-2 in the Southern League.