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Cats oust short-handed Bulldogs from postseason tourney with 9-1 rout
The announcer reset the scoreboard at Tony Zupo Field following the conclusion of the Ceres High-Sonora varsity baseball playoff game.

Bulldog players removed their belongings from the dugout before gathering for a team meeting.

Short-handed Ceres High lost 9-1 to the Wildcats in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV tournament on Wednesday in Lodi.

The Bulldogs were edged 3-2 by Sonora in non-conference play earlier this season.

"We all wish we could have gone farther," Ceres High junior pitcher Haydon Turpin said. "It stinks to go out like this. We worked so hard to get to where we are."

"I'll take responsibility for that loss," Bulldogs head coach John Bussard said.

Ceres High compiled an 18-11 overall record and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference standings (8-4).

The Wildcats (18-9, 9-5) earned the Valley Oak League's No. 2 playoff berth.

Ryan Stevenson, Sonora's ace pitcher, outdueled Turpin.

The junior southpaw (10-2) gave up no runs and just two hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in five innings.

"Everybody was psyched out because of Stevenson and his stats," Haydon said. "We just couldn't hit the ball. You have to score runs to win."

Added Bussard: "He's an outstanding pitcher."

Turpin made his third straight start for the Bulldogs.

"I love that they rely on me," said Haydon, who posted a 9-5 record on the mound this season. "I feel that I can fill that role."

Ceres High trailed 5-0 when Turpin exited the game with two runners on base and one out in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Haydon allowed seven runs, scattered nine hits, struck out three and walked none in 41/3 innings.

Turpin was the Bulldogs' workhorse this season. He had a 132-pitch count in a 6-3 win over Hughson in the Art McRae Tournament championship game on April 14. Haydon averaged 81 pitches during his subsequent four starts.

"I was having a little shoulder and elbow pain after the Central Catholic game (on May 8)," Turpin said. "I could barely lift my arm. I practiced and hit this week. I just didn't throw."

Haydon fouled a Stevenson pitch off his lower left leg while batting on offense. Turpin reached base and stayed in the game.

"It hurt but I toughed it out," he said.

Jimbo Pernetti, Brett Conway, David Page and Tim Cardelli accounted for Ceres High's four hits.

The Bulldogs committed three errors on defense.

Ahead 3-0, Sonora put the game out of reach with a six-run shelling in the bottom of the fifth inning. Nolan Dambacher belted a grand slam over the left-field fence off Bulldog freshman relief pitcher Brad Bussard.

Bussard allowed two earned runs and three hits with two strikeouts and three walks in 12/3 innings.

Ceres High tallied its lone run off Sonora's Wyatt Johnson in the top of the sixth.

The Bulldogs loaded the bases. A.J. Fontana raced home when Page lined a single to left field. Fontana reached base on a throwing error.

Nick Welsh, Ceres High's senior leadoff hitter/centerfielder, missed the game for an unspecified reason. He did not practice with the team on Tuesday.

Pernetti and Brandon Arevalos filled in for Welsh, who batted .446 this season with one homer, one triple, three doubles, 31 runs, 15 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

"It was a huge loss," Turpin said. "But life is filled with adversity and you have to deal with it."

Ceres High had a productive 2012 campaign.

The Bulldogs qualified for the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Ceres High will vie for the WAC title and its third consecutive postseason berth next season.

The Bulldogs return a host of talent, including Turpin, Pernetti, Arevalos, Page, Conway, Devon Ruger, Jimmy Bates, Brad Bussard and Brent Bussard.

"Regardless of the game, we had a successful season," coach Bussard said. "We got a bright future. I just got to do a better job preparing them."