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Bulldogs fall short
Lincoln eliminates Ceres High from Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV tournament
Brent Bussard (15) accounted for Ceres Highs lone run against Lincoln of Lincoln in Game 2 of their best-of-three series in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs on May 19 in Lodi. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Head coach John Bussard and the Ceres High varsity baseball team gathered in right field following their 4-1 loss to Lincoln of Lincoln in the semi-final round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Playoffs on May 19 at Lodi's Tony Zupo Field.

"I don't think a lot of people thought this group of kids would put together the type of season they did," Bussard said. "They accomplished quite a bit."

The Bulldogs compiled an impressive 23-7 overall record this year.

Ceres High also won its second straight Western Athletic Conference crown (11-1).

"We're very lucky to have a great group of kids," Bussard said. "They were a lot of fun to be around because of their approach to the game."

Third-seeded Ceres High needed to beat No. 2 Lincoln (22-6) on May 19 to extend its season.

"It was a do-or-die game for us," Bussard said. "We thought we were going to force them to a game three."

Bulldog senior pitcher/Beyer transfer Drew Stahl had six strikeouts and three walks while going the distance versus Lincoln.

Stahl surrendered three earned runs and scattered seven hits in seven innings.

"They're a good hitting team," coach Bussard said. "Drew kept them off-balance. He just got a little tired. He left a couple pitches up. He batted well. Bottom line is we didn't get the job done offensively. Lincoln's pitcher was soild. He had a very effective changeup."

Ceres High mustered just one hit off Lincoln's Craig Schmich.

Stahl drove in Brent Bussard with a single with no outs in the bottom of the second inning. Bussard reached base on a walk.

Tied at 1-1, Lincoln scored one run in the sixth inning and two in the seventh on its way to advancing to the finals.

Lincoln grabbed a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series after beating Ceres High 8-2 on May 16.

Ceres High led 2-1 going into the fifth inning. Lincoln scored five runs thanks in large part to four walks.

"Our nerves got the better of us," John Bussard said. "But we competed well. Lincoln's a solid team. They swing the bats well. They have depth at pitching. We didn't pound the ball like we're capable of. We scored three runs in two games."

Brad Bussard, a four-year standout, made his final start at pitcher with the Bulldogs.

Bussard allowed two earned runs, fanned four and walked five in five innings.

"He's never been a huge strikeout guy," John Bussard said. "He throws a lot of strikes and pitches to contact. You have to play defense behind him."

Brad Bussard batted 1-for-3 from the plate.

Ricky Lopez batted 3-for-3 with one run.

Brent Bussard single twice and collected on RBI in three at-bats.

Izaiah Hernandez plated one run.

Merrik Price doubled.

Ceres High posted a 1-2 record in the playoffs.

The Bulldogs made history by advancing past the first round, ending a 25-year drought. Ceres High posted a 4-2 win over No. 6 Galt.

"Our kids represented our school and town in a very positive manner," coach Bussard said.