Peyton Rose came through with clutch pitches and the game-winning hit in the seventh inning of Manteca High’s thrilling 4-3 win over visiting East Union Wednesday.
The third-year varsity junior escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top half of the frame. Then in the bottom half she laced an opposite-field single on Michelle Castro’s first offering to score Nicole Magnuson and lift the Buffaloes to a much-needed victory.
“I was looking for that outside pitch because that’s what they’ve been throwing me the last few games,” said Rose, who bats lefty.
Celina Cooper went 3 for 3 to lead Manteca (5-4 Valley Oak League, 11-7 overall), and she hammered a two-run homer against the wind in the sixth inning. The jack tied it at 3-3 after East Union took the lead on Jordan Vinson’s two-run single in the top of the inning.
Cooper’s home run was set up by an infield error that allowed Rose to reach.
“They outplayed us, no doubt,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “Cooper hits a two-run bomb in the wind — you’ve got to tip your hat, period, end of story. It would have been nice had the runner ahead of her not gotten on with an error. I think that was crucial, but you know what? Our defense did not play well at all today.”
East Union (6-2, 15-4-1) had communication issues on pop flies throughout, leading to three collisions between players. The third collision led to a 5-10-minute delay between the final two pitches of the game.
With Magnuson already on base with a one-out walk, Annissa Gonzalez popped up to shallow center field. East Union center fielder Cherish Burks charged toward the infield while shortstop Tea Solorio sprinted onto the outfield grass looking to make an over-the-shoulder catch. The two slammed into each other, and Burks remained on the turf for a short time after.
Rose ended the game on the next pitch. While Burks stayed on the field for the deciding play, Goulart said he is uncertain if his top player will be available for Friday’s contest with Sonora.
“We didn’t communicate at all, and now our center fielder is hurt because we were not talking,” Goulart said. “We have to fix that.”
Manteca’s defense was stellar until the seventh, when two errors helped the Lancers load the bases. Rose came away unscathed by inducing routine groundball outs.
Samantha Owen doubled and plated the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice for East Union, but Manteca’s defense limited the early damage thanks to Beth Aschenbrenner’s big throw from left field for the final out. She gunned down courtesy runner Clair Just at the plate after Vinson’s base hit.
The Buffaloes backed Rose with another highlight in the second with a 4-6-3 double play. Standout shortstop Selena Gonzalez barehanded Monique Colunga’s throw and turned it with an equally-impressive throw to first.
Aside from her big contributions on offense, Cooper also keyed the defensive effort with her play at third base.
“When Selena made that play barehanded I just knew that it was going to be a great day for our defense,” Rose said.
The win catapults the Buffaloes into postseason contention. There are only three Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV berths available to the VOL, and there are five teams in the mix. East Union, Kimball, Sierra and defending champion Oakdale have two losses each.
East Union, which was alone in first place, has suffered two straight losses for the first time all season. The Lancers previously downed Manteca 7-2 on March 22.
“Right now it’s make it or break it,” Manteca coach Corey Navarro said. “We can’t really afford to take another loss. It makes the pool way bigger now as far as who’s going to make it. We just have to keep winning.”
East Union 13, Manteca 4
Destiny Flores (double, 2 RBIs), Amy Gann (2 doubles, 3 RBIS) and Kaycee Peterson all went 2 for 4 to power first-place East Union (7-1) past the Buffaloes. Lindsey Jordan fired six strikeouts in a two-hitter from the pitcher’s circle.
East Union 16, Manteca 4
The Pages (16-1) were paced by Taela Heath’s 3-for-3 effort at the plate. Vanessa Martinez and Nicole Womack contributed two hits apiece.
Pitcher Rebeca Leonard threw all five innings. She struck out seven and yielded two earned runs.