River City High won 3-1 on Monday, May 14, at home to advance to the first round of the Division IV playoffs, ending Patterson’s postseason run.
The Raiders (15-13 overall) will play Oakdale High (23-4) at 7 p.m. today, May 17 at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi.
“We didn’t necessarily play our best baseball,” said Benji Lozano, head coach for Patterson (10-13). “Still, there is nothing for us to be ashamed of. There were a lot of teams who would have liked to have been in our position. These guys need to be proud of themselves.”
Patterson starter Joey Lopes ran into trouble in the second inning after giving up a leadoff double to Javi Martinez and a single to Lance Lozano.
The left-hander almost escaped the jam, striking out the next two batters. But with runners on the corners, Tiger catcher Frankie Sanchez made a gamble, springing to his feet as he tried to throw out Lozano, who was stealing second base.
Shortstop Sal Becerra raced to cover second, but Sanchez’s throw did not arrive in time, and Martinez came home from third to put River City up 1-0.
In the top of the third inning, Patterson’s Jacob Gomez ripped a double to right field, and teammates Robert Marroquin and Sean Rainwater drew back-to-back two-out walks to load the bases. But River City righty Jason Wullenwaber escaped when his counterpart could not, striking out Lopes to preserve the lead.
The Raiders again came through in the bottom of the frame, again with two outs and the end of the inning in sight for the Tigers.
Wullenwaber led off against Lopes with a hard grounder to second baseman Gomez, who couldn’t handle the shot. Joey Beall followed with a single to center.
Lopes retired the next two Raiders, but Justin Rozell was beaned in the foot to load the bases.
River City capitalized, adding two more runs on a pair of infield singles from Michael Andreotti and Kyle Perry.
“(River City) put the ball in play — we never really could click,” Rainwater said. “It was simple: This was do or die for us, and we knew we had to perform.”
Dallas Hernandez and Jake Thompson began the fourth inning with consecutive singles for Patterson before a Wullenwaber balk moved the runners to second and third.
Hernandez then scored off Gabe Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly to left field to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Lopes, who settled down after a shaky start, retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced and finished with six solid innings atop the mound, including five strikeouts.
The junior’s strong showing down the stretch was matched by Wullenwaber, who sat down eight straight hitters before giving up a Gomez walk in the seventh.
Patterson put the tying runner aboard when Becerra reached safely on a throwing error by the Raiders’ shortstop.
However, Wullenwaber struck out leadoff hitter Robert Marroquin to end the Tigers’ comeback hopes.
“We had some opportunities, but we couldn’t come up with the big hit,” Lozano said. “This game will give our returning players a taste of a pressure situation. They’ve seen the struggles and the success a season can bring.”
Lozano said his graduating seniors — Kendrick Trotter, Miguel Hurtado, Quincy Houston, Sanchez, Hernandez, Rainwater, Marroquin and Gonzalez — have been a memorable group.
“These seniors were some of the hardest workers, who did whatever it took to win,” Lozano said. “It seemed like each one had a role in our success this season.”
Rainwater described their success as a collaborative effort.
“Throughout the season, there was a lot of teamwork involved,” he said. “We won and lost as a team.”