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Pamplin powers EU into quarterfinals with walk-off HR

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Delaney Pamplin celebrates with teammates Mikayla Bongi, right, and Danielle Ramos (4) after hitting the walk-off home run that sent East Union to a thrilling 2-1 victory over visiting Lincoln at N...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED May 19, 2017 1:50 a.m.

Lincoln pitcher Lexee Sheiring did not give up a hit to East Union until the seventh inning, when Delaney Pamplin led off the frame with a bomb over the left-center field fence to give No. 2 East Union a thrilling 2-1 win in second-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III softball playoffs on Garvine Field at the Northgate Softball Complex on Thursday.

“I knew she was throwing inside – a lot,” Pamplin said. “And that is one of my favorite pitches.

“And that pitch was inside and high which is my favorite pitch to hit and I felt it off the bat.”

Sheiring was masterful for the No. 7 Fighting Zebras (21-7-1), striking out the first eight batters she faced before walking No. 9 batter Danielle Ramos with two out in the bottom of the third inning. Ramos took second when a pickoff attempt on her at first resulted in an overthrow. Kennedy Goodnough then replaced Ramos on second base. 

Leadoff batter Izabella Owen came to the plate and was the first Lancers batter to put the ball in play with what looked like a routine fly ball to right field. The ball ended up being dropped and Goodnough was moving on contact and never slowed down, scoring to tie the game at 1-all. 

“They were getting the inside-corner pitch and nobody adjusted the first time through,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “And we barely on the second time through.

“Some pitchers are afraid to come inside and hit batters but she wasn’t and she did so with complete control. She was so impressive. I told her after the game she was the best pitcher we have seen this year and that was the best effort we have seen in as long as I can remember.”

An error by the Lancers (26-3) in the top of the third led to a 1-0 lead for Lincoln. The Fighting Zebras scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Lexie Smith that could have turned into a disaster for East Union had Allie Tajii not made one of her two over-the-shoulder catches on the night.  

“They definitely hit them hard to right field,” Tajii said. “The wind was kind of blowing it back on that first fly ball and I was playing in. Then I kind of drop-stepped the wrong way so I knew I had to get back there.”

After the third inning Lancers pitcher Mikayla Bongi shut down the Fighting Zebras, allowing just one base runner on an infield single by Bailey Keaton in the sixth. It was Keaton who scored in the third after she reached on an error.  

Bongi had six strikeouts and allowed three hits with no walks and no earned runs. 

“As the game went on I started relying on my defense more,” Bongi said. “Like Izzy (Owen) and her 1-2-3 seventh. 

“I saw they were moving up on the plate so we would just jam them and get grounders.”

That strategy paid off in the seventh inning when shortstop Owen tallied three putouts to first on three consecutive pitches to end the game. 

“We knew it was going to be a close game,” Owen said. “And we knew every play was huge and our defense really came out and supported our pitcher.”

After the Lancers got their first run, Sheiring retired eight in a row going into the sixth inning when she gave up a one-out walk to Owen. With two outs Alexis Erich hit a screaming grounder to second that was misplayed and allowed Owen to go to third. 

Kristina Mojica then lined out to straightaway center to end the threat on a ball that 10 feet to either side of its destination would have scored two runs. 

“While I was never resigned to losing, I decided about the fourth or fifth inning I could lose to that girl (Sheiring) and that team,” Goulart said. “Because they played phenomenal and she was amazing. I could have slept at night because they would have been better than us – we wouldn’t have lost the game, they would have won it.

“And I don’t get it that place very often.”

Pamplin had a phenomenal practice Wednesday and called her game-winning shot.

“Delaney put on a clinic in batting practice Wednesday,” Goulart said. “I asked her if she was going to hit one out against these guys and she said she thought she might.

“A little bit of Nostradamus there, huh?”

The Lancers face No. 6 Vista del Lago of Folsom on Monday at 5 p.m. at Arnaiz Field in Stockton.

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