After getting a big play from the defense, Sierra pitcher Jacob Peterson helped jump start the offense Tuesday at East Union.
He hit a two-run homer in the second inning and hurled a complete-game gem in the Timberwolves’ 9-1 victory.
Sophomore Jesse Ortiz-Martinez added a two-run shot of his own in the third, and Slyder Blyth cracked a two-run double in the fifth to help Sierra (7-4, 12-9 overall) gain separation in this pivotal Valley Oak League tilt.
Peterson later crushed a double to deep right-center field, finishing 2 for 3 with three runs scored. From the mound, he scattered seven hits, struck out three, walked two and gave up an unearned run in the sixth.
Mason James reached on an error and scored on a 6-4-3 double play for East Union’s lone run.
“It definitely gives me confidence on the mound when I hit well,” Peterson said. “Seeing the rest of the team hit as well definitely gives me a little boost, too.”
The Timberwolves totaled 11 hits, with Blyth going 3 for 3 and Julian Cantu batting 2 for 3 with three runs. They put it away with a three-run seventh highlighted by pinch-hit RBI singles from Hunter Frisk and Jacob Frisk.
Sierra also made some big plays defensively to get Peterson out of jams. In the fifth, East Union’s Daniel Marquez was robbed of a two-run hit when center fielder Chase Sperbeck leaped vertically and crashed into the fence while making the grab.
“That was huge,” Peterson said. “My defense played great behind me. It was a big moment. It definitely gets us motivated coming back into the dugout when we make a play like that.”
The defense came through early in the game, too.
After Marquez (2 for 3) doubled in the bottom of the first, James singled to right to give the Lancers (5-6, 8-11) a chance at drawing first blood, but Sierra outfielder Jared Bagley threw him out at the plate.
Then in the second, Peterson speared a sharp line drive off the bat of Fernando Segura and forced out Andrew Morones at first to end the threat with a double play.
“We dodged some bullets early,” Sierra coach Jack Thomson. “I told the kids you win by making plays, whether it’s at the plate, on the mound or defensively, and today we made some plays today.”
East Union has dropped three of its last four and needed to win to stay in the hunt for the playoffs. The Lancers now trail third place Sierra and Manteca by two games with three to go, and only the top three VOL teams advance.
“We came into this with a pretty positive approach, it just didn’t seem to carry over,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “I think the early runs took us out of the game a little bit. We just have to learn to grind it out and we did not do that today.
“(Sierra) played a really solid game today. They out-hit us, they out-pitched us and they made plays on the field. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap and say hey, you played better than us today.”