LINDEN There's something about the valley that turns the Bret Harte High School baseball team's bats into wet noodles. The Bullfrogs were shut out 6-0 by Linden on Friday, meaning they haven't so much as scored a run in the walnut orchards in three years.

"It's been a while," Bret Harte coach Heath Lane said.

The Bullfrogs lost 1-0 in Linden on March 21. This one wasn't so close, as the Lions scored twice in the bottom of the third inning and salted the game away with four runs in the fifth. Left-hander Blake Flatter was masterful for Mother Lode League-leading Linden (14-6, 9-4 MLL), pitching a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

Levi Morgan did the heavy hitting for the Lions with a double a triple and three runs batted in. Bret Harte's hits were singles by its first two batters of the game, Judd Bales and Anthony Bennett.

With junior righty Sean Nelson unable to pitch because of elbow pain, and junior righty Bennett having thrown 120 pitches in Wednesday's 10-9 loss to Amador, Lane took a flyer and brought up freshman Casey Nelson Sean's brother to make the start. He worked three creditable innings before giving way to Ryan Carter. Freshman Levi Emerson mopped up in the sixth.

Despite three straight losses, Bret Harte (12-9, 7-5) still controls its fate as far as making the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. The Bullfrogs share second place with Calaveras (10-10, 7-5), a game ahead of Argonaut (11-11, 6-6) and a game-and-a-half ahead of Amador (10-9-1, 5-6).

"If we can win two out of three this week, we'll be in," Lane said.

The Bullfrogs play a doubleheader against last-place Summerville (3-16-1, 2-10) tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Bret Harte diamond, and finish the regular season Thursday in Jackson against Argonaut at 4 p.m.

Bret Harte can share the MLL title, or even win outright, if it goes 3-0 this week and Linden stumbles. Lane said the elder Nelson might be able to pitch against Argonaut.