STOCKTON — After giving up six costly errors along with some passed balls and base-running miscues, East Union came through with two runs in the top of the ninth and held on in the bottom of the frame for the 6-4 extra-inning victory Wednesday over host Weston Ranch in Valley Oak League baseball action.
“The bottom line is we still got the win,” Lancers coach Dan Triglia said. “Obviously we would like to have played much better and much tighter. We tried to help them out a little bit but they earned a lot of what they got as well and came up big when they had to.
“I thought early we played kind of sound and then we got off the rails a little bit. Then we gathered ourselves, but they jumped back in it and Weston Ranch did everything they could do to make it a ball game. We just have to get better at taking care of the baseball. We have stretches where we are outstanding – spectacular sometimes – and other times it is like we are on the baseball field for the first time. We just have to keep grinding away and get ready for the next game.”
Brayden Hardcastle had a one-out walk for East Union (6-5 VOL, 9-11 overall) in the ninth and went to second on a single by Mason James (3 for 5, two runs) that snuck between first and second. Lucas Dias singled in Hardcastle and James came in on a wild pitch to give the Lancers a two-run cushion they would hold for the final three outs.
“We gave up an unearned run early on,” Cougars coach Dave Hager said. “And we had players in scoring position more than once with one or no outs and could not get them in. And with Marco (Gonzales) on the mound, you have to take advantage of that. He just gets up there and competes. The kid is a bulldog and I think he is the best arm in the league. He doesn’t take anything from anybody – he just says ‘Give me the ball, here it comes.’ He challenged us for eight innings.
“Every day is a learning process for us. We’re getting better. We’re competing. We competed our butts off today. We came back a couple of times and we played. We just have to realize that every mistake counts and we have to overcome adversity. But I am proud of my guys.”
Gonzales sprinkled seven hits over eight innings and overcame his team’s six errors to strand Weston Ranch runners in scoring position four times.
“It was a long game,” Gonzales said. “I never had any quit in me and I had to keep going on for the team as long as I could. I wanted to go out for that last inning but that pitch count was a little high.”
Gonzales was relieved in the ninth by Gyse Hulsebosch who retired Weston Ranch in order, but not without some help from sophomore shortstop sensation Daniel Marquez. Amier Bowen – who scored in the seventh on C.J. Drain’s sacrifice fly to force extra innings – led off the Cougars ninth with a blistering grounder up the middle. Marquez ranged to his left to snag the ball and threw to first going away from the bag and still got the speedy Bowen by a step.
“When he hit that ball I just went all out,” Marquez said. “When I saw it coming in I knew I had it.”
Hulsebosch was not surprised by Marquez’s highlight-reel play.
“He was making those plays all game,” Hulsebosch said. “And he definitely deserved a huge pat on the back for that last one.”
Jordan Severin went 2 for 4 with an RBI double for Weston Ranch. Batting in the No. 9 hole Marquez drew three walks, one with the bases loaded to force in a run.