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Vasquezs RBI hit helps Sierra bust out against EU
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Sierra’s Jack Thomson turned to a teenager for direction late in a 7-1 victory, and the Hall of Fame skipper was rewarded for his faith.

In nearly two decades of intracity rivalry games, a series sweep of East Union has never come easy — and this one was no different.

With victory still hanging in the balance on Thursday, Thomson found himself in a seventh-inning pickle: With a runner on second and no outs, would he trust his instincts and let No. 9 hitter Jakob Gallagher swing away?

Or would he call for the sac bunt, passing the burden of pressure onto his leadoff hitter Ryan Vasquez?

Thomson — with wisdom forged by years of game management — turned to Vasquez for the answer.

“If we bunt him over, can you get it done?” Thomson said, recalling the conversation. “He said ‘Yes.’ I’m not a big fan of bunting the guy to third with nobody out, but I trusted Ryan. He’s done a good job for us all season; he’s had some good at-bats and been a tough out.”

Vasquez delivered on the high praise, slapping an RBI single up the middle to open the flood gates. Stymied for much of the series, the Timberwolves erupted for four runs on five hits in the seventh inning to complete the sweep.

Kyle Oden had two base hits, Tyler Moss had a pinch-hit two-run single and diminutive starter Leo Soto continued to play bigger than his stature for the Timberwolves (5-0), who have won 12 straight ahead of their showdown series with Oakdale.

Soto went the distance, scattering six hits over seven innings. Though he didn’t overpower the Lancers, the junior ace controlled the tempo of the game with a three-pitch repertoire.

He fanned five batters without a walk and managed to shorten the field, inducing 11 outs in the infield.

Soto is now 4-0 with an ERA south of 1.30.

“Leo has done a great job. ... He’s been our guy; as a junior, he’s been our guy. I’m sure he doesn’t intimidate anybody when they see him, but he can pitch.”

East Union slipped to 2-4 in VOL play, but skipper Dan Triglia saw growth in defeat.

The Lancers quieted one of the Central Valley’s top hitting clubs. The Timberwolves mustered just three runs through the first 12 innings of the series, before busting loose for six in the final two frames.

For much of Thursday’s game, East Union starter Lucas Garcia was the story. His breaking ball-changeup combination kept Sierra off-balanced. He allowed just two hits through five innings — matching Soto zero for zero — before tiring in the sixth and seventh.

“We’ve been hitting the ball very well and we didn’t hit it well this week,” Thomson said. “And they had a lot to do with it.”

Leadoff hitter Gabe Chavez and sophomore Marco Gonzales were the lone bright spots in a punchless Lancer lineup. Chavez went 3-for-3 with a double and plated East Union’s only run, while Gonzales rapped two hits.

“We’ve been waiting for that from Gabe. He’s been working to try and improve his at-bats,” Triglia said. “He swung it well today and that’s what we expect from the top of the lineup. If we can get more of that ... that will get our offense going.”

Chavez’s development best surmises East Union’s season to this point. The Lancers have been competitive at 3-11 but tripped up by growing pains.

On Thursday, with the game still ripe for the taking, East Union made three base-running blunders. Chavez ran into an out after his leadoff double in the first and then sophomore Marco Gonzales was doubled-up on a line out in the fourth.

Chavez committed the third gaffe in the sixth when he sprinted through Triglia’s stop sign at third. The throw beat Chavez to the plate, but Sierra catcher Jake Pruitt couldn’t control it.

“We can compete but we have to learn how to win,” Triglia said. “That’s our next step. We’re playing well enough to compete with these teams, but we have to step up our game.

“I’m pleased with the development of the team. As we’ve gone through the season, we’re learning more about baseball. We’ll continue to improve.”

Lathrop 13,

Weston Ranch 6

Visiting Lathrop (2-4, 3-12) sent 17 batters to the plate during a torrid 11-run third inning in which Miguel Castellanos drove in four runs and plated two of his own.

Richie Juarez and Santiago Kantun each contributed two RBIs and a run in the third. Andrew Tapken belted a two-run single and scored.

Juan Ramos went 2 for 2 and reached base four times for Weston Ranch (0-6, 2-15).

Southern League

Ripon Christian 33,

Turlock Christian 1 (5)

Have a week, Travis Vander Molen.

Seven days after twirling a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over Denair, the sophomore went 4 for 6, racked up 10 RBIs and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle in the Knights’ shellacking Turlock Christian.

Not to be outdone on, Danny Vander Molen, Travis’ cousin, plated six runs and drove in four. David Henderson (three runs, five RBIs) and Billy Marr (four runs, four RBIs) chimed in with three hits each for the Knights (7-1, 8-5).

 Sophomore baseball

Sierra 7, East Union 2

Tanner Peterson (4 2/3 innings) and Jesse Ochoa combined to throw a one-hitter for the Timberwolves (5-1, 10-5).