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East Union shows promise in extra-inning loss to Tracy

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East Union’s Joseph Souza is welcomed to the dugout by Andrew Ruiz after scoring the Lancers’ lone run in the bottom of the third inning.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED March 6, 2014 1:05 a.m.

East Union had one run taken away and gift wrapped another for Tracy in a 2-1 eight-inning loss at Agostini Field on Wednesday.

An infield throwing error allowed Braeden Oki (leadoff walk) to score the winning run from second in the top of the extra frame. In the bottom half, sophomore Noah Denoyer allowed a two-out infield knock to Andrew Ruiz but ended it with a full-count strikeout.

East Union had an opportunity to end it in seventh but a failed bunt led to an inning-ending double play.

All in all, it was a good first outing for the young Lancers, who graduated six starters — including four-year standout Jordan Kron (UC Riverside) — last spring.

“We know we’re going to get good competition when we play Tracy,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “It’s a good place for us to judge ourselves. For our first game on the field against live pitching and live hitting, I thought we did really well for the most part. There are definitely some things to build on. We need to clean up a few things that we didn’t execute.”

East Union had a run called back in the third inning after Kyle Emerson drove in Joe Souza with a no-out triple. Ruiz then flew out to left as Emerson tagged up and sprinted home for what the Lancers thought would be a 2-0 lead. It was determined that Emerson left the third-base bag too early.

“I thought I left at the right time,” said Emerson, who also pitched the first three innings (three strikeouts, one hit, no walks). “Can’t do anything about it now. We played great, though. The intensity was there. Tough loss, but I was proud of the way we played.”

Oki accounted for both of Tracy’s runs and went 2 for 2 with two walks. He was driven in by Brett Curtis in the fourth inning to tie it.

The Bulldogs (2-0) threatened to take the lead in the top of the seventh after getting two on base with one out. Middle reliever Gabe Chavez (four innings, three strikeouts, four hits) got out of the jam inducing a 6-4-3 double play.

“That was a stellar play right there,” Triglia said. “It would have been nice to have that run (in the third). We could have ended the game with that double play but we went extras and you have to play the situations. I love the way the kids competed today.”

It’s a good sign for the young Lancers to challenge the two-time defending San Joaquin Athletic Association champions. The Lancers came up short of expectations with more proven talent the last two years, but third-year senior Jake Danhoff believes East Union can still compete in the always-competitive Valley Oak League.

Danhoff hit 2 for 3 from the clean-up spot Wednesday.

“I think we can surprise a lot of people,” he said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year, but I think we’re a good team. We’re real solid all-around. We don’t stand out in one area but we don’t have any weaknesses.”

Their success could depend on the health of Danhoff’s arm. He is a potential ace and was dominant in the lower levels as a freshman. But the 6-foot-6 Danhoff was limited to just 8 1/3 innings in 2013 because of a strained bicep.

“I’m going to have to step up,” Danhoff said. “Coach didn’t need me to pitch as much last year because we had two really good ones with Justin (Nieto) and Jordan.”

East Union returns two second-year juniors in shortstop Lucas Garcia and catcher Joe Souza. Sophomore Marco Gonzales starts at the hot corner and is one of several Lancers who can pitch.

“We return some guys with varsity experience that we’re going to rely on, but we’re going to need our juniors and underclassmen to really come through,” Triglia said. “We basically lost our starting pitching last year, so it looks like we’re going to have a pretty young staff.”

East Union will be tested again by a Division I club Friday when it heads to Lodi to face Tokay under the lights of Zupo Field.

Manteca 8,
 Liberty Ranch 1

The Buffaloes amassed seven of their runs in the bottom of the second and cruised from there behind solid pitching efforts.

Dom Pisano was the winning hurdler. Dillon Lauborough tossed the fifth and sixth, and Joe Menzel closed it out. The trio combined for a two-hitter. Menzel also drove in a pair of runs from the plate.

Lucas Vaughn hit a double and finished with two RBIs. Alex Garlets plated two runs.

Weston Ranch 3,
McNair 0

Sophomore Josh Dilg broke the ice with an RBI single in the fourth inning, and it was all the Cougars needed to win their season opener Wednesday.

Freshman Manuel Rubio earned the win with his five-inning start, striking out three while walking none and hitting one. Parker Hardy tossed the final two frames for the long save.

Kyle Ostertag clubbed a double to contribute offensively. Kaleb Byrd, C.J. Drain and Juan Ramos each scored a run.

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