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Spartans hold off East Union for stunning victory
Lathrops Jose Sevilla throws to second for a possible double play after forcing out East Unions Bryson Stonum at third. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Lathrop High’s third-year varsity baseball team scrapped its way to its biggest Valley Oak League win on Thursday.

The Spartans stunned defending co-champion East Union at Agostini Field by holding on for a 6-5 win.

“Lathrop was able to bunch up their hits,” Lancers coach Dan Triglia said.

He pointed to the third inning, where the Spartans overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring five times in the frame on five hits and a walk.

Leftfielder Ernie Garcia, who was fresh off orchestrating an inning-ending double play, led off the third with a hit. After stealing second, he scored on Marcus Mertilien’s RBI single.

Pitcher Mikey Pereznegron helped his cause by plating Mertilien with a base hit. With the game tied 2-2, Pereznegron gave Lathrop the lead by scoring on a wild pitch. Austin Plunk’s walk was followed by Gabe Castellanos’ two-run single.
Brock Swift gave East Union (0-3, 5-6) the early advantage with his two-run blast that cleared the 342-foot fence in right center. Jordan Kron set the table by drawing a lead-off walk.

Lathrop coach Randy Baltazar praised Pereznegron for keeping his team positive.

“He’s a leader and the kids gravitate towards him,” Baltazar said.

The Spartans (2-1, 8-4) are much improved after winning handful of games in previous campaigns. Baltazar noticed the difference during the preseason.

Pereznegron, meanwhile, scattered seven hits while striking out four. Ahead 6-2 – Lathrop scored an unearned run in the fourth – the Spartans saw some of their 6-2 cushion slip away.

The Lancers scored a run in the sixth when Jake Danhoff lashed a single to plate Swift, who managed a one-out hit.
East Union added two more in the seventh, taking advantage of a two-base error coupled with a base hit, walk and wild pitch.

“Mikey got the guys to settle down (with two outs) by saying, ‘don’t worry, we got this,’” Baltazar said. “He’s so mentally tough.”

With that, Pereznegron got the final out with a fly ball to the outfield.

 For East Union, Swift, Danhoff, and Bryson Stonum had two hits each. John Olague added a double.
Castellanos, Pereznegron, Mertilien, Garcia, Austin Plunk and Jared Weiler had hits for Lathrop.

“Scrappy? That’s who we are,” Baltazar said.