Tree-touching homer hurts baseball Cats

March 19, 2003 11:00 pm

OAKDALE — A strange home run hurt Sonora yesterday as the visiting Wildcats fell 8-4 to Oakdale in the Valley Oak League opener for both teams.

Joey Norwood's three-run blast in the bottom of the fourth inning put the Mustangs (8-3, 1-0) ahead 7-2. The weird thing was, the ball was caught by Sonora right fielder Brian Sipe.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Norwood's drive was ruled to have hit a tree branch before it got to Sipe. Oakdale has a line of trees in right and center fields and, according to Sonora coach Mike Silva, the ground rules calls for balls hitting the trees to be ruled home runs if they would have cleared the adjacent fence anyway.

Sipe wasn't behind the fence when he caught the ball, and Silva said the branch didn't affect its flight, but Oakdale caught a break.

"It's just one of those things you don't think you'll ever see," Silva said. "It just didn't go our way."

Justin Hart drove in a pair of runs in the sixth for Sonora to make it 7-4, but the Wildcats (5-5, 0-1) couldn't get anything going in the seventh.

Travis Hendrix had two hits for Sonora against Norwood, who also was the winning pitcher. Hart took the loss, victimized by Norwood's homer and some shaky, three-error fielding.

"I think we just had a little opening jitters," Silva said.

The Wildcats will try to bounce back Friday against Manteca at Bev Barron Field, where the first pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Manteca was idle yesterday.