East Union coach Brian Goulart was concerned that the Lancers’ Valley Oak League make-up game at Manteca may have come at a bad time.
It took place Friday — 10 days after rain postponed the cross-town showdown, one day after an emotional 11-inning win against perennial contender Sierra and one day before prom.
“The Sierra game was so draining,” Goulart said. “I got home last night and was exhausted. But we get excited to play our cross-town rivals and Manteca is always good. We had good energy today.”
Energy that the host Buffaloes lacked until the later innings, as East Union spotted pitcher Mikayla Bongi a seven-run lead and held on for a 7-3 victory.
The first-place Lancers (8-0 VOL, 19-2 overall) got hits in every inning but the final two, finishing with 12. Clean-up batter Alexis Erich was 3 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs. She drove in Cherish Burks (leadoff walk) in the opening inning for the game’s first run and later plated East Union’s final run in the fifth on Deja Guzman’s single. Erich also laced a two-run double in the third.
“Needed that,” Goulart said of his team’s productive start. “It set the tone and got (Bongi) to pitch relaxed.”
The left-handed Bongi put forth a solid effort after fellow sophomore Delaney Pamplin’s brilliant extra-inning start from the day prior, throwing four perfect innings over the first five. She struck out eight and walked none but ran into some trouble in the sixth when she scattered five hits, including a three-run homer by CSU East Bay-bound Annissa Gonzalez.
Bongi was relieved by Pamplin in the seventh after giving up a sun-aided infield single to Beth Aschenbrenner. Pamplin went through the top third of Manteca’s lineup in order for the save and was helped by Taylor Ward’s hit-robbing catch in left field.
“We figured Bongi would have to go the distance because Delaney went 11 (on Thursday) and she pitched her butt off,” Goulart said. “One (bad) inning that was partly caused by our defense but she proved herself to be worthy today. Really dominant early and (Manteca) made great adjustments. That’s a tough team.”
Manteca (6-3, 13-5) didn’t get a runner on base until Haighly Kissee reached on an error to start the fourth. Sierra Martinez broke up the no-hitter with a two-out infield single but both runners were left stranded.
Kissee sparked the Buffaloes’ three-run sixth with a double to straightaway center. Melissa Hansen singled on the next pitch to set up Gonzalez’s bomb to right. Manteca threatened to score more after Tawny Deerinck (single), Morgan Miramontes (error) and Rhiannon Genilla (infield error) all reached to load the bases. Bongi induced a pop fly to right to limit the damage.
“For some reason we play timid for the first four innings,” Manteca coach Corey Navarro said. “I don’t know what it is, if it’s a little anxiety or what, but we come out slow. We wait until the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to start producing runs but it’s too late.
“(Bongi) pitched a great game and stayed away, but we gotta make adjustments and make things happen. We’re better than this, I believe. My hats off go to East Union, they’re a good team.”
The Buffaloes are in danger of falling further from the league’s top three with a big stretch coming up. Next week they face Oakdale and Sierra, and the rematch with East Union follows soon after on April 30. Navarro said it’s important for his club to carry the momentum gained from the last three innings of Friday’s contest into the Oakdale game.
“Once we got that first hit the intensity level went up,” Navarro said. “That’s what we lacked the first four innings. We have to play with that same intensity level early.”
East Union 9, Manteca 2
The undefeated Lancers (18-0) continued to their roll Friday.
Maddie Anchundo pitched a complete game and struck out 12, aiding her cause with a 2-for-4 effort from the plate with a triple. Janelle Barrera, Kianna Ahlstrom and Haylee Agueda were other offensive standouts. Jaelyn Stock and Katie Johnson played well defensively. Catcher Kristina Mojica was also a key contributor on both offense and defense.
Koryn Menasco was 2 for 3 to lead Manteca, and Danielle Burch swatted a triple.