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EU comeback thwarted by Pecks 3-run double in 7th
East Union catcher Jordan Kron tags out Kevin Peck at the plate. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
Pressure situations are nothing new to East Union freshman Jordan Kron, who led the school’s varsity basketball team in scoring this past winter after contributing to USA Baseball’s under-14 gold-medal finish in the Pan-Am Championships in the fall.

None of that intimidated Manteca’s Kevin Peck late in Tuesday’s heated Valley Oak League matchup at Agostini Field.

Kron entered the game in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded. He induced a pop fly for the second out and was a pitch away from punctuating a come-from-behind win in which the Lancers spotted Manteca a five-run lead in the first inning.

Peck looked at two strikes to fall behind in the count and looked at two more close pitches that were called balls.
Kron then challenged Peck with a fastball, which turned into a bases-clearing double to deep right-center field and a dramatic 10-8 win for the Buffaloes.

“I felt like I could hit this guy,” Peck said. “I’ve seen harder pitchers.”

The Lancers (0-1, 2-4 overall) felt the game should have ended on a called third strike in the duel between Kron and Peck. Despite the setback, Triglia said he won’t hesitate to throw his freshman in pressure-packed situations in the future.

“(Kron is) a varsity baseball player, so he’s going to be called upon to (perform) in different situations and I have complete faith in him,” Triglia said. “I think he did an outstanding job. He did exactly what we needed him to do — he threw strikes.”

The controversy didn’t end there, as the game ended with a controversial call.

With two outs and Kron on base with a leadoff walk, sophomore Steven Gigli chopped a soft grounder to Manteca third baseman Daniel Miramontes.

The routine play was anything but because of Gigli’s speed. Gigli appeared to get there in time but was called out at first.

Though East Union felt slighted by some unfortunate breaks, Triglia realized that the team could have avoided them by playing better defensively.

Starting pitcher Joe Modesto threw 111 pitches in 6.1 innings, and half of the 10 runs he yielded were unearned. Four of East Union’s five errors led five of Manteca’s first seven runs.

“If we can take better care of the ball and keep crooked numbers from going up on the scoreboard we’d be in much shape,” Triglia said. “‘Consistency’ is the word we’ve been focusing on. We need to be consistent for seven innings, and we’d be in pretty good shape if we could do that.”

Clean-up batter Matt Burrows went 3 for 3 with two runs, a double and two RBIs for Manteca (3-0, 5-4-1). He also started on the hill and lasted 3.2 innings. Barber, who jump started Manteca’s first-inning rally with a double, got the win after 2.1 innings of work and is expected to start Thursday for the rematch at Manteca.

Cory Van Warmerdam was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, and Michael Timmins (two runs, two walks) added a run-scoring double in the third.

East Union countered Manteca’s early onslaught with a four-run second highlighted by a two-run single form Chace Agostini (2 for 4, two runs) and a two-run homer from Gigli, who ended up 2 for 4 with two runs, three RBIs and a double.

John Ott was 2 for 4 and drove in two runs, including the go-ahead score in the bottom of the sixth that catapulted East Union to its only lead of 8-7.

“I expected a close game like that,” Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “That’s how it is in league, and I didn’t expect anything different. I wasn’t comfortable with a 5-0 lead and you could see why. I thought we did a good job of battling back.

“I’m proud of the guys and I know we’re going to be ready to play on Thursday. East Union will come out strong and we’re just going to have to come out stronger. I expect nothing less.”