Tokay held Lodi at bay for the first three innings of Tuesday’s cross-town game, but the Flames’ bats can’t be silenced for long.
Lodi opened the floodgates in the fourth and fifth innings to crush the Tigers 14-0 at Zupo Field, to make the series 2-0 in favor of the Flames, which had already clinched a Tri-City Athletic League title.
“The other guy threw well, kept us off balance,” Lodi coach Hobie Schultz said about Tokay pitcher Spencer Berdahl. “We’re up a second and third time facing him, and these guys made adjustments, had a couple of big innings.”
Lodi’s big fourth inning started with an error to put Jonathan Charboneau on first base. By the time the dust settled on the inning, 11 batters had come to the plate and put five singles, two walks, another error and seven runs into the stat sheet.
“Our defense fell apart,” Tokay coach Pat Macfarlane said. “Not throwing strikes, that starts it, then not going to cutoffs, not playing catch, not bodying balls up... checked out totally. Embarrassing.”
For Lodi’s part, Charboneau pitched a complete-game shutout (cut short at five innings by the 10-run rule) with two hits allowed — one an infield single in the third base-shortstop gap by leadoff man Cade Campbell in the first inning, and the other a shot to center field by late-inning substitute Harrison Blevins.
“I always have faith in my team,” Charboneau said. “We’re a strong-hitting team — our stats show it, our strength shows it — we can hit the ball when we need it, always. ... The one thing I worry about is throwing strikes, and I know I can trust my defense behind me to field the ball.”
Charboneau finished with six strikeouts and one walk, while going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs at the plate.
The Flames went back to it in the top of the fifth inning, with another never-ending inning that saw 13 Lodi batters take a stance. The highlight was a run-scoring triple by Angelo Zazzarino down the third-base line, followed by a two-run home run over the left-field wall by Omar Plascencia.
“I was telling these guys, (Charboneau) was really good tonight and we just needed a couple of runs, and I think he could have kept them,” Schultz said.
The Flames finished with 15 hits — two each by Logan Stout, Plascencia, Charboneau, Fidel Ulloa and Trevor Jackson. Stout added two RBIs, while Ulloa, Plascencia and Charboneau had two runs each. Colton Smithhart had a single, two walks and two runs, Myles Lozano had a single, an RBI and a run, Mason Osborn had a single and Niko Cabrera had a single and an RBI.
Lodi threatened to break it open in the third inning, loading the bases on a walk and two singles before Berdahl struck out two batters to end the threat.
Tokay only got two runners in scoring position.
“We’ve got to make contact,” Macfarlane said. “Get some hits, score some runs, but that’s not where the game was lost for us. Our pitcher was throwing good, then he got a little wild, threw too many pitches, but he’s still young, and he’s learning. But no excuses.”
Lodi had already clinched a TCAL title with Monday’s victory over Tokay, but there was the matter of a St. Mary’s protest from one of their losses to Lodi earlier this season. Tuesday’s victory, coupled with the Rams’ 10-7 loss to Lincoln, erased any last inkling of a doubt.
“That makes it a moot point,” Schultz said with a grin. “That’s St. Mary’s, that’s their deal, not mine.”
Lodi (23-4, 13-1 in the TCAL) will host Tokay (3-24, 2-13) in the regular-season finale today, 6 p.m. at Zupo Field.