For a third consecutive day, Lodi lets its bats do the talking against Tokay.
A combination of early runs and domination on the mound led to Lodi posting an 8-2 win over Tokay for the sweep in the best-of-three Tri-City Athletic League baseball series at Zupo Field on Wednesday. Lodi outscored Tokay by combined runs of 32-3.
The sweep is extra icing on the cake for Lodi (14-1 in the TCAL, 24-4), which clinched the TCAL title on Monday with a win over Tokay, plus Lincoln knocking off defending league champion St. Mary’s by an 8-7 score. Lincoln, too, won its series in a sweep over St. Mary’s (9-6 in the TCAL, 15-12).
“These guys deserve it; they have played hard all year long,” said Lodi coach Hobie Schultz of his team.
Lodi scored one-fourth of its runs in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Logan Morita and Colton Smithhardt were issued back-to-back walks. Then with two outs, Jonathan Charboneau singled to left field that loaded the bases for winning pitcher Logan Stout, who doubled to the left field wall that drove in pinch-runner Billy Machado, who was running for Morita, and Smithhardt for a 2-0 lead.
Tokay showed signs of its offense trying to establish momentum in the top of the second and fourth innings. In the second, Ryker Henne went to first base on a dropped third strike. Harrison Blevins hit into fielder’s choice that put Henne out at second and led to the Flames’ final out.
The Flames needed only one hit in the bottom of the second inning to build their lead to 4-0. Myles Lozano walked and stole second base. After a Lodi batter struck out that gave the Tokay (2-13 in the TCAL, 3-25) two outs. After Smithhardt earned his walk in the game, he and Lozano scored when Angelo Zazzarino (2-for-4 with two RBIs) doubled to the left field wall.
In the top of the fourth, Tokay got baserunners on the paths again. Lew and Logan Drummond had back-to-back singles off Stout — who pitched a three-hitter — with one out. But Lew was picked off at second base and a grounder ended the Tigers’ scoring threat.
“You can’t hit 1-2, 0-2 all the time,” said Tokay coach Pat Macfarlane, who was referring to the counts that his players faced most times in the game. “That’s what happened to us tonight.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Lodi increased its lead to 5-0 when Stout (also 2-for-4 with three RBIs) singled to a popular spot that he and his teammates like to send the baseball — left field. After he stole second base, he moved to third on Fidel Ulloa’s sacrifice fly. Jeffery Werder singled to left field, which allowed Stout to touch home plate.
Lodi scored its final runs in the bottom of the fifth inning for an 8-0 lead — with no hits. Walks to Ulloa, Mason Osborn and Omar Plascencia, Charboneau hit by a pitch, a fielder’s choice and a Tokay error all led to the runs.
Tokay scored its only runs in the top of the seventh. Drummond was hit by a pitch, which was followed by Joseph Barnhardt’s double to right-center field that drove in Drummond. Barnhardt, who advanced to third base on a grounder, scored on a passed ball.
Stout also struck out 10 Tokay batters. One of the strikeouts included the dropped ball on Henne.
“He battles out there every time,” said Schultz of Stout. “His command has been a little better than it has been. That’s a positive right there.”
The Flames, who had at least one hit in each inning, finished with eight hits in the game. Schultz and his assistant coaches cleared their bench as the game went on.
“Everybody got to play,” Schultz said. “That was one of my goals. Everybody got to contribute, so that was a good thing.”
On Friday, the Sac-Joaquin Section will release the baseball playoff brackets on its website — cifsjs.org. Lodi joins Liberty Ranch, Galt’s second high school that won the Sierra Valley Conference title last week, as the only area high school baseball teams advancing to the playoffs. Bear Creek, which is in the Lodi Unified School District and a member of the San Joaquin Athletic Association, is also in the playoffs.
In softball, Lodi, Liberty Ranch and Galt have also earned playoff berths. The section will also release the playoff brackets on its website, also on Friday.
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.