East Union is finding different ways to win in the young Valley Oak League season.
The Lancers were held to one hit by visiting Escalon on Thursday but still managed to remain undefeated with a 2-1 win at Agostini Field. The difference was clutch pitching from sophomore starter Ashton Heath and reliever Evan Jeffery, and their batterymate JP Perazzo had a hand in both runs.
“We talk about it all the time, wins are hard to come by especially in the VOL and we'll take them however way we can,” East Union coach Carlos Herrera said. “We'll fix what we can practice and come back better.
“We were lucky today, and hopefully we can turn it around next week because we have a good ball team coming up with Kimball.”
Perazzo drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth. Carlos Alvarez and Nolan Calmes both walked and advanced to scoring position with a double steal. Batting ninth in the order, Perazzo worked the count to 2-2 and connected solidly on his sacrifice fly to right field.
“I just wanted to make contact with the ball, honestly,” Perazzo said. “I was just trying anything to get the runner from third in. I felt like it could have dropped (for a hit), but either way it was going to get the runner from third in.”
East Union (4-0, 5-0 overall) could not solve Escalon lefty Demetrius Teixeira, who struck out five and gave up no hits in his four-inning debut appearance on the mound. He did give up three walks and hit a batter, and the Lancers looked to capitalize in the third when they loaded the bases with two outs. Teixeira escaped the jam with a popup to center field.
I just feel like we weren't on our game, to be honest,” Perazzo said. “We weren't seeing the outside pitch and (the plate umpire) was calling those strikes.”
The Cougars (1-3) gave Teixiera a chance to get the win after scoring their only run in the third. J.P. Lial was hit by a pitch after Heath jumped ahead 0-2 in the count and later scored on Luke Anderson's sac fly to center.
Teixeira was replaced by right-handed Bryce McPherrin after throwing 63 pitches.
In the fifth, East Union took advantage of two errors and a wild pitch for the tying run. Perazzo reached on a misplayed grounder, stole second and scooted to third on Willie Segura's single to center. Perazzo was sent home on the wild pitch.
“Give credit to (Escalon), they kept themselves in the game and kept us off balance,” Herrera said. “Fortunately for us we found a way and took advantage of some mistakes, which is something that we haven't done in the past.”
Heath, the winning pitcher in both games against Central Catholic last week, did not factor into the decision Thursday but was solid nonetheless. He got through five-plus innings in 74 pitches, striking out seven while giving up three hits and two walks. Jeffery took over after Anderson ripped a leadoff double to deep right-center field, and he was suddenly in a rut after giving up a single to clean-up hitter Cameron Maruyama.
Jeffery clutched up from there, striking out the side. He punctuated the inning with a three-pitch strikeout after intentionally walking Ty Harris.
“Just knew I had to go out there and do my job,” Jeffery said. “I wanted to do whatever it took to help us get the 'W.'
“I had to focus on getting those batters out because one swing of the bat can change the game like that, so I just wanted to keep throwing strikes and getting betters out.”
He then locked down the win for the Lancers with a perfect seventh, again striking out the side.
“When it happens it happens and it's a great feeling, but I don't consider myself a strikeout pitcher,” he said.