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Dawgs have tough road to travel
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The Ceres High baseball team made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years in 2002 and just missed out in 2003.

Securing a berth in the postseason is going to be a difficult task for the 2004 Bulldogs. They have little room for error thanks in part to a horrendous start.

"Mathematically, we're in it, but percentages are against us," said Ceres coach Tim Williams.

"We're not going to give up. "We're only two games away from being in a good spot.".

The Bulldogs lost eight of their first 11 games, including five of six in the Central California Conference.

"All of our losses for the exception of three have all been by one run," Williams said. "We've lost four games in the last inning."

Pitching has been Ceres' strength.

Mike Arnold, the Bulldogs' No. 1 starter, has compiled a 3.00 ERA in three league games. Derrick Goblirsch, Ceres' No. 2 starter, has pitched three complete games. He has a minuscule 1.50 ERA.

"We've only given up 10 runs in our last three games," Williams said. "We just have to find some way to get the bats going."

Ceres is batting .219 as a team, has a .316 on-base percentage and just seven stolen bases in conference play. The Bulldogs have scored just six runs in their last four games.

"That's just not going to get it done in high-school baseball, especially in the CCC," Williams said.

"We need to get some key hits in key situations."

Ceres must also play solid defense. The Bulldogs have committed a host of untimely errors.

"You have to be able to minimize your mistakes and that's something we haven't been able to do," Williams said.

The Bulldogs can turn their season around if they split with Merced, the reigning CCC champion, this week. Solid play at the Windemuth Easter Tournament could serve as a springboard for success during the second half of the season.

"We have to get one this week and sweep Modesto (after Spring Break) to give ourselves a chance," Williams said.

Williams plans to shuffle his lineup in an effort to produce more runs.

"Hopefully, we'll find a lineup that will work," he said. "We're trying to find someone with a hot hand."

The top four teams in the CCC go to playoffs. Downey, Johansen, Beyer and Merced are the front-runners. Davis, Turlock, Atwater, Ceres, Golden Valley and Modesto could also contend and/or play spoiler. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier