After staying close through most of the game, the Sonora Wildcats lost 8-2 to Oakdale on Tuesday at Bev Barron Field.
The Wildcats were trying to throw a wrench in the Mustangs' plan of a seventh consecutive Valley Oak League title and trailed just 3-2 heading into the seventh inning.
"We played one of our better games this year," said Wildcat head coach Scott Johnson. "We were right there and the kids were battling. The score is not indicative of how well we played tonight."
Oakdale scratched across a pair of first-inning runs against Sonora's Ryan Stevenson, but the Wildcats answered with single runs in the first and second inning. The Mustangs took the lead for good with a run in the third.
Stevenson kept the VOL leaders in check and gave the Cats a chance to win. He finished hurling 6 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs while striking out five.
"I wish we could put a solid game together behind Ryan - he's throwing his heart out," Johnson said. "We can't expect him to strike out everybody."
At the plate for Sonora (2-9 VOL), Nick Harris was 1 for 2, Justin Payne was 1 for 3 with a run scored, Stevenson drove in a run, Ryan Dills 1 for 2 and Carter Denton 1 for 3.
The Wildcats will look to split the season series with their rivals on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Oakdale.
"This is Oakdale-Sonora, it doesn't matter what the records are, each team is gonna bring it," Johnson said.