Nothing is settled yet in the final week of the Valley Oak League.
Fighting for a spot in the playoffs, East Union greatly improved its chances while thwarting Manteca’s potential title clincher with a 5-2 win Monday at Agostini Field. The first-place Buffaloes (10-2 VOL, 18-6 overall) host the regular-season finale Wednesday but can seize at least a piece of the league crown today in a make-up game at Kimball.
East Union (8-5, 11-11), meanwhile, is in fourth place for the final Sac-Joaquin Section postseason berth. A win Wednesday gets the Lancers in, but a loss could force a tiebreaking process with Sierra also in the conversation. Monday’s win puts them in a good spot, with Sierra getting swept by the Buffaloes earlier this season.
“We’ve been saying the whole time there are no weeks off out here,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “We don’t look at this team as a fourth-place team, we looked at them like that’s a dude on the mound and we need to play our ‘A’ game and we didn’t quite do that. We’re not an all-star team where we can just kind of roll the ball out. We need to play well in all facets or else it will be real tough.”
Menlo College-bound ace Marco Gonzales worked through some early trouble and sealed the East Union win with his third strikeout of the game. Manteca, which has three seventh-inning comeback wins in league, threatened late after Zach Chamberlain was hit by Gonzales’ first pitch. Jake Menasco and Mitch Balmut later reached on errors, and Ronaldo Tijero (2 for 4) drove in Chamberlain with a fielder’s choice for the final run.
Gonzales wasn’t dominant but put in a workman-like effort, scattering five hits and walking one.
“With the ball in his hand we’re going to be competitive,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “We’ve asked him to do so much in his three years at the varsity level and he’s come through for us time and time again. He’s ‘El Toro.’ He’s the bull and he gets after it.”
The bottom half of East Union’s lineup did much of the damage offensively. The Lancers never trailed after No. 6 batter Lucas Dias scored on a wild pitch in the second inning. He and Adrian Sevier-Aflleje, hitting from the No. 8 spot both went 2 for 3 with two runs while crushing key doubles that helped the Lancers plate two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Sevier-Aflleje switched spots with Dias, then Daniel Marquez knocked in pinch-runner Jake Harries with a single to right.
“That was big,” Gonzales said. “I had confidence in them to do that and it made me feel better about taking the mound in the seventh inning.”
East Union 3, Manteca 1
Fernando Segura (10 strikeouts, three walks, two hits) outdueled Gino Campiotti over 5 1/3 innings, and Nick Sims got the final five outs for the save.
Campiotti had a no-hitter in the fourth until Jacob Garcia broke it up with a single. He then scored the first of his two runs on a hit-and-run play executed by Cristian Flores. The Lancers (8-5, 12-10) scored two more in the fifth to jump ahead for good.
“As good as Fernando was he had to be because Gino was just as good,” East Union coach Carlos Herrera said. “This was a fun game to be a part of, the energy was very high and the rivalry added fuel to the fire.”