East Union isn’t thinking about its postseason chances just yet.
The focus in the short term is to win innings, and the Lancers met the objective Thursday in their 12-2 six-inning win over visiting Central Catholic. They salvaged a Valley Oak League series split with the Raiders (4-5, 10-10 overall), setting up their pivotal two-game set with Sierra.
East Union (5-5, 8-10) trails third-place Sierra — the Timberwolves have a make-up game with Central Catholic this Saturday — by a game a half in the jumbled race for three Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berths.
To make that series matter, the Lancers had to get past Central first — inning by inning. Zach White drilled a two-run single to plate Sammy Nieves and Fernando Segura and enforce the mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth.
East Union was issued 12 walks but also got some timely hitting.
“We played pretty good ball throughout,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “Our goal today was to win every inning, and of the six innings we won five. Great approach by the guys today, offensively and defensively.”
East Union answered an early run from Central Catholic with a two-RBI knock by Andrew Mount, who finished 2 for 3. It was all Lancers from there, as they built a 9-1 lead heading into the sixth.
Segura, East Union’s pitcher, keyed the early barrage. Following a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Slaughter, who moved two base runners into scoring position, Segura tagged a two-run single in the third inning. He drove in another run in the third and was followed by a two-run single by Danny Marquez.
Segura finished 2 for 2 with three RBIs and gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks from the mound. He also struck out five.
“He gutted it out,” Triglia said of Segura. “Every time he gets the ball in his hand he gives us a quality start.”
Manteca 29, Lathrop 1 (5)
LATHROP — The Buffaloes (6-4, 13-8-1) busted out of their recent offensive slump in a big way, scoring 17 runs in the third inning and totaling 27 hits.
Alex Gouveia was one of many standouts, going 5 for 5 with three doubles, a triple, a walk, four runs and five RBIs. Dominic Rea (3 for 5, double, four runs, two RBIs), Gino Campiotti (3 for 4, double, two runs, two RBIs), Dylan Gross (3 for 6, two doubles, three runs, four RBIs) racked up three hits apiece.
Isaac Maldonado (2 for 2, run, RBI), Ferrin Manuleleua (2 for 4, three runs, two RBIs), Ryan Ward (2 for 2, three runs, RBI), Matthew Ender (2 for 3, two doubles run, three RBIs) and Kyle Ranchels (2 for 3, two doubles, two runs, three RBIs) each had two hits.
Sophomore hurdler Rafael Diaz registered six strikeouts against two walks in the mercy-shortened two-hitter.
Weston Ranch 0 (6)
STOCKTON — The Cougars (3-7, 8-10-2) have played spoiler for postseason hopefuls in recent weeks.
Not this week.
Kimball (8-2, 14-8) has regained sole possession of first place with its sweep of Weston Ranch, and junior pitcher Gabe Cortinas certainly did his part by striking out nine in a mercy-shortened perfect game.
The Jaguars took advantage of errors to stake a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Jake Wilson finished 3 for 3 with two runs, and Justin Schober had two RBIs.
“We came out flat and lacking a passion and desire to compete,” Weston Ranch coach David Hager said. “But hats off to Gabe Cortinas, I’ll give that kid credit. He came out and flat out dealt.”
Ripon Christian 11, Orestimba 0 (6)
NEWMAN — Make it four straight shutout wins for the Knights (8-2, 11-6-1).
Willem Hoekstra dominated from the bump, striking out seven while giving up three hits and two walks. Nolan Lingley went 3 for 4 with two doubles, three runs and three RBIs. Declan Van Vuren (two runs, two RBIs) and Jadon Vander Molen (three RBIs) each went 2 for 4.