OAKDALE – Even with a patchwork lineup, East Union battled Oakdale for 10 innings Tuesday before Kindra Hackbarth plated sister Maddi from second on a sizzling grounder up the left-field line for a 1-0 walk-off win and a piece of the Valley Oak League championship with the visiting Lancers.
An injury to shortstop Sam Owen caused East Union (13-1 VOL, 21-1 overall) to play musical chairs with its infield, sending first baseman Michelle Castro to shortstop, catcher Alejandra Rascon to first and plugging in Kristina Mojica at catcher.
“On a positive, we had phenomenal pitching by (Mikayla) Bonji and Delaney (Pamplin),” Lancers coach Brian Goulart said. “Alejandra (Rascon) – our catcher – did a great job at first in her first game there in high school. How about (Kristina) Mojica catching? That was a playoff-atmosphere game and she played a phenomenal game. (Michelle) Castro did a great job at short.
“We got better today even though (Sam) Owen was out of the lineup. We found out we have a really good catcher and we found out we have the ability to put players in different positions.”
Bongi pitched the first six innings and yielded five hits while striking out five with two 1-2-3 innings. But no strikeout was bigger than that of Maddy Brewer in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded Brewer ran the count to 3-1 before Bongi battled back, striking out Brewer swinging.
“Our pitchers were phenomenal, our defense was great, our offense was terrible and base running was not very good either,” Goulart said. “You have to hit and our approach was not very good. We were taking first-pitch strikes right down the middle. Taylor (Ward) had two of our five hits so you have to figure in 10 innings we only had three other hits by the whole team? That’s not OK and that’s not a good approach.
“It doesn’t matter if we had Sam (Owen) or not. Obviously we missed her bat today but the other nine batters have to go get it. We don’t teach walking in practice, we teach hitting.”
Pamplin had a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh but found herself in a jam in the eighth with the bases loaded and two out. She induced a grounder to Castro to end that threat.
Gascon had three outstanding plays at first, two which were inning-ending. She fielded a line drive with one out in the first inning, doubling up the runner on first to end the inning. She did the same thing with two out in the second, again fielding a line drive and in the ninth inning she made the first out of the frame with yet another remarkable catch on a line drive.
East Union left runners in scoring position three times – Ward (2 for 4, double) at second in the first inning and at third in the fourth. In the fifth Allie Tajii was at third and Danyelle Godoy was at second with one out, but a flyout and groundout ended that threat.
In the 10th inning the bottom of the Lancers order was struck out 1-2-3, leading to leadoff batter Kindra Hackbarth starting the bottom of the frame for the Mustangs (13-1, 19-1) on second via the international tiebreaker, setting up No. 3 batter Maddi Hackbarth’s heroic shot down the left-field line.
“Usually, that is how it goes,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger said. “If you are at East Union they have the top of the lineup coming up in the seventh. It has happened 20 years in a row.
“And now we had (leadoff batter) Kindy (Hackbarth) on second because of the international tiebreaker and on any base hit she was going to score – it’s kind of hard to throw her out. It is kind of fitting that her sister knocked her in.”
The defending Sac Joaquin Section champion Lancers and Oakdale begin the SJS Division III playoffs Tuesday at the Sacramento Softball Complex with the brackets to be announced later this week.