By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
EUs Gigli basks in individual, team successes
All-Area Baseball MVP Steven Gigli led East Union to a share of the Valley Oak League title and was named the conferences Offensive Player of the Year. Gigli is the Manteca Bulletins 2011 Baseball Player of the Year. - photo by HIME ROMERO



Offensive Player of the Year
• Kalvin Prins, Ripon Christian junior: Six-foot, 4-inch shortstop showed he has speed to go with the pop, leading area players with five homers, 15 steals and 32 runs. Prins also led the Knights with 31 hits, 30 RBIs and a .425 batting average.

Pitcher of the Year
• Kevin Peck, Manteca senior: Broke through like no other in the area after throwing just 14 innings in 2010, mostly in relief. He was the area leader with a tidy 0.69 ERA, 8-3 record and 93 strikeouts in 71 innings going into the Buffaloes’ Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV title game against Oakdale.

Utility Player of the Year
• Jordan Kron, East Union sophomore: After starting at catcher as a freshman, this budding star moved to the hot corner in his second varsity season and was one of the top pitchers in the area. Kron batted .329 with two HRs and 28 RBIs. From the mound, he posted a 1.11 ERA, a 7-3 record and 70 strikeouts in 63 innings.

• Hayden Koch, Ripon senior: Part of one of the area’s top starting tandems, Koch finished 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA, .190 batting average against and 53 Ks in 43 IP.
• Justin Scott, Ripon senior: Trans Valley League Pitcher of the Year went 5-2 overall with a 1.49 ERA and 66 Ks in 61 IP.
• Brock Swift, East Union junior: Outstanding as a reliever, Swift (3-1, 2.02) was awarded three starts at the end of the season, including a complete-game playoff win over rival Manteca.

• Zach Evans, Ripon senior: Three-year varsity starter hit .333 and was one of the Indians’ top run producers despite missing eight regular-season games.
• Ronnie Limas, East Union senior: On top of calling pitches for arguably the area’s best staff, Limas hit .397 and reached on nearly half of his plate appearances (.488 on-base percentage) from the No. 2 spot.

• Justin Dias, East Union senior: Dias made some highlight plays at second base and finished strong (.333, 24 runs, two HRs) at the plate after going 4 for 20 in the preseason.
• Akiha Etu, Weston Ranch senior: Imposing first baseman at 6-1, 250 pounds was one of the area’s most feared sluggers. Etu finished the season on a tear, finishing with a .452 average and .526 on-base percentage.
• Aaron Fay, Ripon Christian: Stout second baseman started the season late as he was a part of RC’s run to the NorCal tourney in basketball but still put up impressive numbers: .414 average, five HRs, 29 RBIs and an area-best .810 slugging percentage.
• Danny Gouveia, Manteca junior: Shortstop was not short on clutch moments, as he hit .356 with two homers, 31 runs and 22 batted in from the middle of Manteca’s potent lineup.
• Alex Gustin, Ripon senior: Sparkplug led the Indians in batting average (.343), hits (23), runs (18), doubles (six) and steals (13) in the regular season.
• Daniel Miramontes, Manteca junior: Third-year varsity player produced a .413/.519/.794 line along with three HRs, four triples and 23 RBIs despite a nagging season-long hamstring injury.
• Gabe Rellamas, Manteca senior: Middle infielder was the tone-setter for the Buffs, hitting .470 with a team-high 31 hits and eight doubles to go with two jacks.


• Nathan O’Leary, Sierra senior: Transfer from Modesto Christian hit .431 with three homers and 18 RBIs from the left side of the dish.
• Michael Timmins, Manteca senior: Offensive numbers (.324, seven steals) were down from his junior year, but his range in center field remained second to none in the area.
• Caleb Young, Sierra senior: Rock-solid performer was reliable at every outfield spot. Young committed just one error on the year while hitting for a .375 average.
• Elijah English, Ripon Christian senior: Manteca native batted .350 with 28 hits, 30 runs, 15 RBIs and a team-high seven doubles.


• Dylan DeBrouwer, Sierra senior: Area’s most productive leadoff hitter (.427, 32 hits, 26 runs, 3 HR, 6 doubles, 12 steals) played shortstop when he wasn’t on the mound as Sierra’s ace (4-3, 2.17).
• Matt Burrows, Manteca senior: A three-year varsity catcher, Burrows will pitch and play first for Sonoma State. Hit .341 with 22 RBIs and had some masterful performances from the mound (5-5, 2.55, 83 K, 66 IP).

— Jonamar Jacinto

The 2011 season was one of many memorable moments for East Union High junior Steven Gigli, the Bulletin’s All-Area Baseball MVP.

There was the miracle over-the-fence catch in Sonora that took away what was supposed to be a dramatic game-winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Seven extra innings later, East Union took a heart-breaking 5-4 loss.

Gigli’s best all-around effort came in a victory. In a rare start on the pitcher’s mound, he flirted with a perfect game but settled with a one-hitter while striking out six in a 17-0 five-inning win over Lathrop. And oh by the way, he smacked a grand slam to finish with five RBIs and four runs scored in a 3-for-4 effort at the plate.

Then there was his coronation as the Valley Oak League’s Offensive Player of the Year, a well-deserved honor after swatting 11 extra-base hits with 18 RBIs and a .529 average.

But the best moment of them all, in his eyes, was one shared with the team.

“Winning the VOL championship at Sierra was probably the most exciting one,” he said.

The Lancers assured themselves a piece of their first VOL crown in 10 years on May 6 when Gigli batted 3 for 4 in a commanding 8-1 win over Sierra.

Overall for the season he was the area leader in batting average (.512), hits (42), doubles (11) and on-base percentage (.579).

The 5-foot-8 centerfielder also smashed two homers, swiped 10 bases, posted a .720 slugging percentage, plated 31 runs and drove in 20 others.

Midway through the season Gigli moved down in the order to the all-important No. 3 position from the leadoff spot and didn’t skip a beat. He started the year on a 16-game hitting streak, and ended up hitless for just three of the team’s 25 games.

It was a fantastic follow-up to his impressive rookie campaign at the varsity level as a sophomore. In 2010 he crushed six homers and 12 doubles while hitting for a .448 average.

East Union went 11-3 during the wildly-competitive VOL season. Oakdale garnered the other half of the conference title and went on to capture its fourth Sac-Joaquin Section championship in five years.

Manteca, the VOL’s third-place finisher and section runner-up, Sierra and Sonora were also in the mix for the conference title. Even first-year varsity club Kimball of Tracy proved to be a worthy adversary throughout the season.

The parity is what makes East Union’s championship run all the more rewarding, even if it had to share the top spot. The Lancers would finish with a 17-8 overall record, including a perfect 10-0 mark at home.

“The competition was really good this year,” Gigli said. “Knowing every day we went out there we had to play our best game, it was really fun. We were in so many good games.”

But there are five games in particular that will stick out in future years.

That’s in reference to what culminated into an epic five-game series with Manteca. Their two regular-season games were split in one-run ball-games, and every contest in their best-two-out-of-three series in the second round of the SJS Division-IV playoffs were each decided by the same narrow-as-it-gets margin.

East Union came out on the short end in the rubber match of the postseason series, 3-2. And while it still pains Gigli he remains awed to be a part of that season-long classic duel with Manteca.

“The atmosphere in the playoffs just took it to a totally different level,” Gigli said. “It got a little too intense at one point (a benches-clearing altercation broke out early on in Game 3, but no punches were thrown), but they’re our rival and everybody knows each other.

“Either way it was a good battle — they all were. I wish we would have won, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

The Lancers might have an even better chance to reach the section finals next year.Battle tested and hungry, all but three starters will return.

Rejoining Gigli next year are the likes of sophomore Jordan Kron, Brock Swift and Zac Carrillo — all infielders who were also the best three pitchers on the 2011 staff.

And with talent coming up from the league championship sophomore squad, expectations are high at EU.

“We have a lot of experience and some momentum going into next season,” Gigli said. “I expect to win another (league title), and anything less would be a disappointment. We’ll be shooting high next year, that’s for sure.”