Over the past five years, East Union baseball has given new meaning to the word “close.”
The Lancers have experienced every imaginable scenario of coming up on the short end of the stick, and last year’s one-run losses — five of them in Valley Oak League play — continued the trend.
East Union has nabbed one playoff berth in the past four seasons, but has not changed the primary objective in the slightest.
It’s a safe assumption that the VOL will be as competitive as it has been in recent memory. Nothing will change in this year’s showcase except the elevated talent of the teams. For East Union, finding a way to win one of two one-run losses to Oakdale, or to sweep a Kimball instead of split will be the club’s deciding factor — one that will likely be decided on the pitcher’s mound.
When it comes to the “ace” East Union will be able to lean on the efforts of four-year varsity starter Jordan Kron to take the ball for the Lancers. Like Manteca with Jake Corn, Sonora with Ryan Stevenson and Oakdale with Bryce Dyrda, East Union will call on its senior leader, but the chase for the title will be decided by the pitching staffs as a whole.
“That is what is going to dictate what happens in the league this year,” East Union head coach Dan Triglia said of the VOL pitching. “It seems that every program has that one quality pitcher that is going to be their No. 1 guy and it’s going to be those second and third pitchers; that Thursday pitcher if you will, that will dictate what happens in league standing.”
The club will shy away from any early-season scrimmages, saving all of their energy for the season opener Feb. 27. When the club opens the 2013 season, each contest will be counted on the season record.
When they do get going the Lancers will definitely have one they can count on in Kron, entering the final season of what has been a decorated Lancer career. He has garnered All-VOL status in each season, making his final push towards a VOL and possible Sac-Joaquin Section title. East Union will also depend on the services of left-handed pitchers Justin Nieto and Jake Danhoff, but there is no question what Kron will mean to the program.
For his career at EU, the UC Riverside bound Kron has a 1.46 earned run average and 148 strikeouts in 129 innings.
“He’s a four-year that has contributed every single year,” Triglia said of Kron. “He’s been a leader on this team and not just on the field but in the dugout as well. He’s set a high standard for himself and his expectations that he places on himself are really high and our team kind of builds on that.
“When we give him the ball and he gets out on the bump we know we’re going to get a quality start.”