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Surging Sierra stakes its claim with upset of EU

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Rebecca Wroten slides in safely at home with the game-winning run Wednesday evening at Northgate Park. Sierra upset the Lancers, 1-0.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 30, 2009 3:05 a.m.
As if the gridlock atop the Valley Oak League standings could get any more perplexing, Sierra High claimed a huge piece of the potential playoff pie Wednesday night with a 1-0 upset of first-place East Union at Northgate Park.

With the loss, the Lancers slipped into a three-way tie for second with the Timberwolves and Oakdale.

All three now sit at 8-3, one game back of Ceres with three to play.

The good news for both Sierra and East Union is that the Bulldogs travel to Oakdale Friday for what will be the definitive contest of the VOL season.

If Ceres wins, the Bulldogs will be the favorite to walk away with the Title.

If Oakdale prevails, a four-way tie atop the standings will be the likely scenario.

At this point, it’s anyone’s crown to claim.

“They’ve got a ton of heart, these girls,” Sierra head coach Nick Olmo said. “This is the game they want every year ­­­­— EU at their home.

“It’s just great to walk out of here with a win, and it keeps us in the playoff picture as convoluted and screwed up as it is.”

“Screwy” was the word of the day after a bizarre seventh inning capped what was up to that point a nail-biting pitcher’s duel between Gabby Hawkins (five hits, five strikeouts) and Kourtni McCall.

McCall coasted through the first six, mowing down eight and allowing just one Karissa Valdez knock.

Heather Scharmann led off the decisive frame with an infield single before being thrown out on a Hawkins fielder’s choice.

Rebecca Wroten spelled Hawkins on the base paths and was moved to third after Marissa Vallejos laid down a bunt and was pegged in the back on the throw to first.

Valdez then stepped to the plate and hit a screamer that Cassie Waggy fielded cleanly at first.

Waggy stared Wroten back to the bag at third then tossed it to second to nail Vallejos, but Wroten broke on the play and scored with room to spare.

“It was great game on both sides,” Olmo said. “Seven innings of scoreless ball and then just a misplay at second scored that run, and that’s what it comes down to.”

East Union had ample opportunity to tie it in the home half, however, after Cherie Dejesus led off with a sharp single through the hole on the left side.

Stephanie Guzman entered as a pinch runner and was moved along when Sierra misplayed Alicia Cook’s ensuing bunt attempt.

With runners at first and third with no outs, Brittany LaMar then hit a low line drive that Valdez snagged around her ankles, but Guzman broke from third, allowing Valdez to double her up.

“I thought (Guzman) would be heads up, because it’s the seventh inning and you want to be careful,” Valdez said. “But it was a hard hit, and it looked like it could have been in the hole.

“It was intense and we really wanted it. We went all out.”

The game ended a batter later when Tailor Brown rolled out harmlessly to Scharmann at third.

“There’s nothing positive to say except Kourtni pitched a heck of a game,” EU head coach Brian Goulart said. “We lost because we don’t know how to make the right decisions on defense or running the bases.

“We deserved to lose that game, period. It’s as simple as that.”

Said Olmo: “It’s just phenomenal what we’ve done the past two games. We’ve talked about clutch and heart, and they showed me what they have today.”

Sierra (15-6-2) travels to Manteca Friday, before closing the regular season next week with a road trip to Sonora and home tilt with Weston Ranch.

East Union (17-6) visits Weston Ranch Friday and closes with a trip to Central Valley and a home tilt against Manteca.

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