The Bret Harte High School baseball team is having a recurring nightmare.
Two Mother Lode League games in a row, the Bullfrogs couldn't hold a seventh-inning lead and lost by one run to damage both their championship and postseason aspirations.
Yesterday, Amador scored three runs in the top of the seventh to pull out a 10-9 victory at the Bret Harte diamond. Last Saturday, Calaveras scored four in the bottom of the seventh to stun the Bullfrogs 7-6.
"It's pretty rough," Bret Harte coach Heath Lane said after the Amador game. "But all you can do is put your uniform back on and play hard the next day."
The two losses have dropped the Bullfrogs from a game-and-a-half lead to a half-game deficit in a crazy race that has five of the league's six teams bunched within two games.
Linden now leads at 8-4, with Bret Harte at 7-4, Calaveras at 7-5 (after a 4-2 upset loss to last-place Summerville yesterday), Amador at 5-5 and Argonaut at 5-6. Three of the five will qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
Bret Harte, 12-8 overall, and Linden (13-6) meet in a big game tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Linden.
The Bullfrogs were on the verge of an almost unheard-of season sweep of perennial power Amador when things went sour yesterday. Bret Harte led 9-7 with two out and a runner on second base in the seventh, only to see the Buffaloes (10-9-1) rally on a double by Tony Tamantini and three straight Bullfrog errors.
"It was almost identical to the Calaveras game," Lane said.
Bret Harte went down 1-2-3 against Tamantini's pitching in the bottom of the seventh.
The Bullfrogs had taken the lead in spectacular fashion in the sixth with a four-run rally that featured three home runs. Judd Bales led off by going deep to draw Bret Harte within 7-6. After Anthony Bennett walked, Ken Baptista homered for an 8-7 Bullfrog lead. Up stepped Travis Emerson, and out went another homer.
"We were flying pretty high there for a while," Lane said.