A visit to the mound seemed to have picked up Fidel Ulloa and his Lodi High baseball teammates.
That was bad news for the Tokay High squad.
Although holding a comfortable lead entering the fifth inning of Tri-City Athletic League game at Zupo Field on Monday, Lodi was able to build its lead with a few more runs. That led to Lodi recording a 10-1 win over Tokay in the first game of a best-of-three series.
Along with Lincoln posting an 8-7 win over St. Mary’s, Lodi (12-1 in the TCAL, 22-4) wins its first TCAL crown since joining the league in 2014. St. Mary’s (9-4 in the TCAL, 15-10) won the TCAL title in 2018 and 2016. Tracy won the crown in 2017.
“We just take it one game at a time,” said Lodi coach Hobie Schultz. “Enjoying the ride as it goes.”
The Flames won the San Joaquin Athletic Association title in the spring of 2014. Lodi joined the TCAL in the fall of that same year.
Lodi held an 8-1 lead over Tokay (2-11 in the TCAL, 3-23) entering the top of the fifth inning. But the Tigers’ Cade Campbell and Colby Baker had back-to-back singles off winning Lodi pitcher Fidel Ulloa. Then Ryan Lew walked to load the bases with no outs.
That’s when Schultz called a time out. He walked to the mound to talk with Ulloa and the Flames’ infield. Whatever Schultz, who does not like to disclose discussions with his pitchers and infield, said worked. The Tigers’ next three batters struck out swinging to get the Flames out of the bases-loaded situation.
“That just shows you what kind of character he has, and what type of battler he is out there,” said Schultz of Ulloa. “He’s a competitor out there.”
Added Tokay coach Pat Macfarlane, “At least a chopper gets a run in. We just can’t strike out three times in a row.”
Three extra-base hits in the bottom of the fifth increased the Flames’ lead to the final score with one out. Trevor Jackson sent a fastball over the left field fence for a solo home run and moved Lodi’s lead to 9-1. Pinch-hitter Mason Osborn doubled to the left field wall, and scored when leadoff hitter Colton Smithhart tripled to the right field wall to make it 10-1.
Tokay only had two batters get on the bases in the last two innings — both in the seventh inning with one out. Baker reached base on a Lodi throwing error and Lew was hit by a pitch. But the next two Tiger batters flew out to end the game.
Lodi watched its lead increase to 8-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Thanks to two hits from Stout and Jonathan Charboneau, both singles, Jeffery Werder’s sacrifice fly, Smithhart walked and Omar Plascencia hit by a pitch contributed toward the runs.
Plascencia walked and scored on Ulloa’s sacrifice fly that gave the Flames a 5-1 in the bottom of the third inning.
The Tigers scored their only run of the game in the top of the second. James Haynes singled up the middle of the Flames’ infield. Ryker Henne singled that moved Haynes to second.
“Against, arguably, the best pitcher in the league, we had some good at-bats,” Macfarlane said.
After a strikeout, the Tigers loaded the bases when Josh Anderson walked. Then Haynes scored when Campbell reached first base on a fielder’s choice; Anderson was thrown out at second base.
Lodi jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the bottom of the first. Smithhart and Angelo Zazzarino each walked and scored on Charboneau’s double to left field. Charboneau moved to third base on a ground out, which led to a Tokay throwing error as the Tigers were trying to get the second out after earning the first out at first base. But the ball was overthrown that sent Charboneau to home plate.
“We just kept adding on, which is what I like to see,” Schultz said.
Macfarlane added, “We gave them four runs. It put us in a hole. We shot ourselves in the foot earlier.”
The Flames finished with nine hits in the game and six stranded on the bases. Tokay had six hits and left 10 on the bases.
Tokay will be the home team in today’s game at Zupo Field that is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.