What was shaping up to be Lodi baseball’s best season in more than a decade came to an abrupt end on Tuesday in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
The one that stopped the fourth-seeded Flames was Gregori pitcher Kobe Dumlao, who pitched a complete game in a 2-1 victory for the No. 13 Jaguars, holding Lodi to three hits.
“He did a great job,’ said Gregori coach James Davis. “He doesn’t throw very hard, but he throws strikes, changes speeds, keeps hitters off balance, and in high school baseball, if you can do those things, you can beat a very good team.”
Lodi (23-6), averaging 7.4 runs per game coming into the game, didn’t score until the seventh inning, when Fidel Ulloa singled and advanced to second on an error before he was brought home by a Trevor Jackson single. Gregori shortstop Marlon Lainez stopped a promising rally with a double play on the next play, stepping on second base and hurling to first baseman Collin Gunn to set off a raucous celebration on Tony Zupo Field in Lodi.
“There’s not a whole lot you can tell, doesn’t dictate our season, that’s exactly what I said (to the players),” Lodi coach Hobie Schultz said. “Gregori played a great game. They deserve to win — they were better than us today. They got the key hits, their guy did an outstanding job on the mound. We just didn’t get it done at the plate.”
Gregori’s batters struggled to find their timing against Lodi fireballer Ulloa, who also pitched a complete game, allowing five hits while striking out 10 batters. But the hits fell at the right time for Gregori (12-16-1) in a two-run fifth inning, starting with a Lainez single to center field.
Lainez moved to second on a Chandler Anderson sacrifice bunt, then scored on a Baker Melendez single to right field. Carson Croasdale, who reached on a walk, then scored on an infield single by Gunn.
“We were playing an outstanding, well-coached baseball team, and we sold our kids that we could play with them. And that’s all you can do at the end of the day,” Davis said. “We wanted to be there in the seventh inning. On paper, we’re the 13th seed, they’re the fourth seed, they’re supposed to beat us on paper. The game’s not played on paper, you’ve still got to go out and execute and throw strikes.”
Gregori threatened in the top of the third inning when Melendez walked with two outs, and Jeff Hoffman doubled behind him. Melendez rounded third past a windmilling coach, but Lodi put together a relay sequence to catch him by several strides at the plate.
Lodi had a runner in scoring position in the fourth inning when Angelo Zazzarino walked, stole second and advanced on a groundout. But Lodi couldn’t capitalize, with one of their 13 fly outs to the outfield.
“I just, you know, feel bad for the guys with how hard they played all year, and they’re out in the first round,” Schultz said. “A lot of guys are coming back, so hopefully they learn from this, so if we get back next year, they can do something about it.”
On Thursday, Gregori will face No. 12 McClatchy, a 4-3 winner over No. 5 Davis Sr. in eight innings.