SACRAMENTO — Tenth-seeded East Union was one of three Valley Oak League teams to lose their Sac-Joaquin Section Division III postseason openers on Monday.
Rio Americano took advantage of five East Union errors, including four that led to five unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 9-6 victory for the No. 7 Raiders. They’ll take on reigning champion and second-seeded Yuba City Thursday at McAuliffe Memorial Ballparks.
Also on Monday, sixth-seeded Central Catholic and No. 8 Oakdale dropped one-run decisions, leaving No. 4 Manteca as the last remaining team standing from the VOL. The Buffaloes face No. 5 River Valley on Thursday.
Menlo College-bound pitcher Marco Gonzales drudged through 5 1/3 innings, finishing with five strikeouts while scattering 10 hits and two walks. Reliever Gyse Hulsebosch got the final two outs in the home half of the sixth.
East Union (12-12) scored its first three runs and led 3-1 in the fifth before the wheels fell off in the bottom half of the inning.
“We just needed to play better defense behind him,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “Had we made a few more plays in the fifth inning we’re looking at possibly a different result, but that’s a pretty good team that put the ball in play well. We just gave them extra opportunities and made Marco throw more pitches than he needed to. We did not get it done today.”
Adrian Sevier-Aflleje, Danny Marquez, Eric Flores and Gonzales each had two hits for the Lancers. Sevier-Aflleje sparked their fifth-inning rally with a leadoff double and eventually scored on an error.
Gideon Branch highlighted Rio Americano’s staggering fifth inning with a two-run double.
The Raiders (17-11) scored three more in the sixth, two of which came on a controversial home run from Sonny Ledford (3 for 4). The plate umpire ruled that the ball, which caromed back onto the outfield grass, hit a tractor that was behind the fence. Triglia contended that it bounced off the top of the fence.
“The umpire said he heard a metal sound and everybody else heard plastic,” Triglia said. “We gotta go with what he calls.”
East Union made its first playoff appearance since 2011 and swept VOL champion Manteca in the final week of the regular season to advance.
“Of course, we wanted to go deeper in the playoffs, but I’m very proud of how the guys grinded it out all year,” Triglia said.