With a Valley Oak League championship safely tucked away, the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Team Tournament was supposed to be a gift to be enjoyed one time. Only now, the East Union Lancers have not only expierenced the postseason atmosphere, the club extended its season with a 5-4 win over Benicia High Tuesday in the second round.
Benicia met up with East Union, which earned a first-round bye, after knocking off Sierra Foothill League No. 3 seed Nevada Union 6-3 Monday. The Lancers proved unfazed by the postseason format, matching up the team’s best players from top-to-bottom.
“Ten of the 12 players have played at some time in league,” East Union head coach Ron Bylow said. “The last doubles team had never played in a league match but we had to have them; they actually played well out there.
“We just went with our top lineup, and our six singles players were all our seniors.”
The Lancers’ efforts in singles keeps the group’s season alive another week. East Union got all five of its points in singles play, with No. 1 Ricky Peloso starting things off with a nice showing. He beat Cooper Wright 6-0, 6-1 and looked the part of a No. 1 in doing so.
“Ricky started off playing their No. 1 well,” Bylow said. “Ricky was really hitting great the entire match. That kind of started us off and we played good tennis all over the courts.”
Each of the Lancers’ eight home courts were in action simultaneously, with the final third doubles match waiting for the first available court. Which became available somewhat quickly, with Peloso winning his match in less than an hour.
“I played really good today,” Peloso said. “My back hand was doing really good, better than normal, my serve was going in and I really didn’t miss too much.
“I knew they were going to be a pretty good team, so I just wanted to relax and not really think about things too much before the match.”
Chris Garcia found himself in unfamiliar territory, making his postseason debut without a partner, playing in one of the Lancers’ victorious singles spots. Garcia beat his opponent 6-0, 6-3 for one of the Lancers’ early points earned.
“I was ready, I went out there relaxed and was just trying to have some fun,” Garcia said. “I’ve played some at singles, but Matt (Eichsteadt) and I were just a good doubles team.
“It was fun to get out there and mix it up a little bit.”
The Lancers got its culminating victory from Marcos Aleman, who edged out Benicia’s No. 5 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 with the majority of both teams looking on. Aleman and Lancer Ariel Rosette were the final matches to be decided and the Lancers needed only victory from one to advance to the third round.
Brandon Manvelle beat Benicia’s Brandon Posadas 6-0, 6-0, while No. 2 East Union doubles Raymund Martinez and Mitchell Liwanas fought back from a deficit for the 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
East Union will meet up with Capital Valley Conference No. 1 seed Rio Americano Monday in the Division-II third round. A win over highly-touted Rio Americano would leave the Lancers one victory shy of a tournament championship berth.