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Erich swipes home plate to help EU edge Elk Grove
East Unions Alexis Erich makes the daring play and steals home to tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning as Elk Grove pitcher Victoria Lowe gets caught with the ball still in her hand. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Sometimes patience wins out over power.

Trailing by two runs going into the seventh inning Friday with visiting Elk Grove, East Union took advantage of five walks and some great hitting and base running by Alexis Erich to claim a 5-4 walk-off win on Garvine Field at the Northgate Softball Complex.

Leadoff batter Izabella Owen started off the seventh for the Lancers (8-0) with a walk and following a strikeout Alexis Erich (2 for 3, double) doubled to send Owen to third. Kristina Mojica walked to load the bases and Allie Tajii walked to plate Owen and bring East Union within 4-3.

After another strikeout, Erich decided to take matters into her own hands, stealing home when Elk Grove pitcher Victoria Lowe returned to the circle with her back to the runner.

“That was my call,” Erich said of her stealing home. “There were two outs and I asked him (Lancers coach Brian Goulart) if it was going to be OK. On that play the pitcher turned away and I went for it.

“The double wasn’t the most solid hit I have had but it worked.”

Allyson Roberts then drew a walk to load the bases for Shelby Cefalu who worked the count full before watching ball four, sending Mojica to the plate for the walk-off win.

“We had conferred,” Goulart said of him and Erich before her delayed steal of home. “And sometimes desperation breeds interesting plays. 

“All the credit goes to Alexis. She was paying attention that the pitcher was turning her back and I wasn’t – I was looking at other things going on. She was halfway home before the pitcher even turned around. That is a championship player making a championship play and bailing us out. That’s awesome.” 

The fact that the Lancers were even in position to win was a testament to their grit and some stellar defensive plays. Through five innings the Thundering Herd (6-2) stranded 13 runners and only had two runs. 

In the third inning with Elk Grove runners on first and second and no outs, East Union shortstop Izabella Owen fielded a screaming grounder to her right, and stepped on third for the inning’s second out. 

“With runners at first and second I wanted to get the lead out,” Owen said. “And thank God she hit the ball over there and led me over there and that got us the out.”

With two outs in the Thundering Herd third, Lancers left fielder Danyelle Godoy (2 for 4, run) ended the frame when she gunned down Daisy Angele at the plate. She was trying to score from second on a single by Hannah Steege (3 for 5). 

“My adrenaline was just rushing,” Godoy said. “And when the ball was hit to me my team was yelling, ’four, four,’ so I just threw it in there and she happened to slide right into the tag (by Mojica).”

Goulart is hoping some of the on-field prowess from his older players rubs off on the younger ones.

“Godoy’s throw from left to the plate was huge,” Goulart said. “And Owen’s play at short was obviously the play of a high-level player. Izzy’s a top-notch player. That’s just in her DNA. 

“We are going through some growing pains and we have some stuff to fix, so hopefully our younger players can watch and learn from our older players.”

East Union got its first two runs in the first inning. Owen and Godoy led off with back-to-back singles. Owen scored on a groundout by Mojica and Tajii tripled in Goday. After that, Elk Grove kept the Lancers off the board until the seventh inning.

“It was a good game for us,” Thundering Herd coach Amanda Buck said. “It was a good statement game, a good tune-up game heading into league. 

“I am just happy we got this game in and that they wanted to play us. It was a good test for us.”