East Union’s seniors shined on senior night and had key contributions from the underclassmen Thursday at Agostini Field.
It all came together for the Lancers, who needed to win the Valley Oak League finale against Kimball to have a chance at advancing to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. They left no doubt, steamrolling to a 19-0 win behind a combined no-hitter and an offensive outburst up and down the lineup.
“This is what we expected all year, but I think what you saw today was our underclassmen stepping up and making sure our seniors made it to the playoffs,” East Union coach Kris Hensley said. “I think our underclassmen grew up today. We had a phenomenal practice yesterday after a heartbreaking loss on Tuesday (3-0 at Kimball), and you could see it today. The spirits are up, and it’s a true team right now.”
East Union (6-6 VOL, 10-11 overall) totaled 11 hits while capitalizing on 11 walks and three hit batsmen.
Clean-up batter Evan Jeffery was 4 for 4 with two doubles and four RBIs. He was also part of the combined no-hitter, following the strong four-inning start of lefty Zach Grabowski.
“Just thought this could be my last high school game, so I’m going to go out swinging,” Jeffery said. “I was taking hard hacks at everything, and the ball was hitting the bat.”
On the mound, Grabowski was able to work through some control issues and rung up 10 strikeouts. He did allow seven batters to reach — four were walked, and three were hit. Jeffery, the staff ace, faced four batters in the fifth, striking out two and hitting one.
“Needed a big outing from him,” Hensley said of Grabowski. “I told him, ‘Look, I promised these seniors we were going to get them to the playoffs and right now I need your help,’ and he said, ‘I got you, coach.’”
Fellow senior Jacob Toste highlighted the Lancers’ second-inning rally with a three-run homer, his sixth jack of the season. He went 2 for 2 with two walks, five RBIS and four runs.
East Union led 10-0 after two innings and plated the rest in the third, sending 15 batters to the plate.
Ryan VanArsdaell set the tone at the top of the lineup. In the bottom of the first, he drove the first offering from Kimball’s Nick Coronado deep to left field for a double. He finished 2 for 3 with two runs.
“I was just looking to hit something hard,” he said. “Probably wasn’t the best pitch to swing at, but I got a good piece and it went far.”
The senior outfielder also made the defensive play of the game. Normally a center fielder, Hensley asked VanArsdaell to fill in at right where the player is challenged by the setting sun and swirling winds.
Kimball (4-8, 6-16) two runners on base with two out in the top of the sixth when Mason Rivera launched a high pop fly deep toward the right-field corner. Van Arsdaell did not see it off the bat and had to turn his body at the last second and reach toward the fence to make the catch on the run.
“Phenomenal catch,” Hensley said. “He’s probably the best defensive center fielder I’ve ever coached.”
The SJS playoffs begin next Tuesday for Divisions I-IV qualifiers. East Union will compete in Division III or IV.