Justin Nieto outlasted Oakdale ace Bryce Dyrda Thursday at Agostini Field to help East Union earn a rare win over the defending Valley Oak League champion, 3-2.
File this one under the “We’ll take it” category.
The Lancers (1-1 VOL, 5-4 overall) capitalized on Oakdale mistakes to score all of their runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Andrew Ruiz and Lucas Garcia belted back-to-back hits to lead off the rally, and Jordan Kron was beaned by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Jesus Esquivel drew an RBI walk, and with two outs Jake Danhoff reached on an infield error to put EU ahead 2-0. After Dyrda was replaced, Brennan Koeller drove in the needed insurance run with a full-count walk.
East Union tallied two of its three hits in the fifth.
“You don’t get opportunities like that with Oakdale, and if you can take advantage that’s huge,” East Union coach Dan Triglia said. “There are a lot of ways to win baseball games. We weren’t hitting balls to the walls, but we were still able to generate runs.”
Nieto did well to keep the Mustangs (1-1, 6-5) from doing the same in the top of the sixth. He walked Ericksen Dickens — who had three more hits Thursday after collecting two doubles, a home run and five RBIs against the Lancers in Tuesday’s series opener — to load the bases with no outs.
Oakdale plated its runs with an infield hit by Nick Garza and Colt Parshall’s fielder’s choice. Nieto, who balked to move runners to second and third, got out of the jam with the lead still intact by forcing a grounder to shortstop.
Nieto followed that up by retiring the side in order in the seventh to seal it. The senior lefty scattered just four hits and struck out five versus two walks.
“Outstanding performance by Justin Nieto,” Trigia said. “He kept them off balanced, and Oakdale is a very good hitting team. They were able to bunch some hits together in the sixth inning but he was cruising until then. That could have been a huge inning for Oakdale but Justin limited the damage.”
East Union takes a break from league action next week during its spring vacation but will compete in the Cosumnes Oaks Tournament Monday and Tuesday.
Manteca 11, Weston Ranch 0
The Buffaloes (2-0, 7-3) completed the series sweep with another emphatic 11-0 victory. Jacob Corn led the combined five-inning two-hitter, striking out six in his three innings of work. Jeremy Vaughn struck out the side in the fourth, and Dillon Laughborough pitched the fifth.
Lucas Vaughn and Alex Jorgensen each had two hits and two RBIs. Manteca blew it open with a six-run barrage in the fourth, making it 10-0.
Jared Ferrari and Juan Ramos accounted for Weston Ranch’s hits. The Cougars have one game over spring break as they head to McNair next Tuesday. Manteca plays Tokay at Lodi’s Zupo Field on March 29.
Sierra 5, Sonora 1
Ryan Vazquez pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings, and he and reliever Dakota Conners combined for nine strikeouts to force a key series split in Sonora.
Jake Souza doled out two hits and two RBIs to lead Sierra (1-1, 5-4-1). The Wildcats (1-1, 8-4) plated their lone run in the bottom of the seventh.
Sierra competes in the Fresno Easter classic at Clovis High starting on Monday.
Kimball 12, Lathrop 2
In Tracy, Zack Perugi was 3 for 3 with a double and three runs while earning the win from the pitcher’s mound. Zack Johnson, also 3 for 3, finished the game early with a walk-off single in the bottom of the fifth. The Jaguars are now 9-0-1 on the season.
Lathrop’s Carlos Estrada and Richard Juarez were each 2 for 2. The Spartans (0-2, 4-7) take on Brookside Christian in a nonleague contest next Wednesday at Billy Hebert Field.
Ripon Christian 10, Le Grand 3
Jon Vander Molen (3 for 4, 3 RBIs, 3 runs) was a double shy of hitting for the cycle as the Knights (4-0, 5-5-1) rolled to victory in Le Grand.
Dominic Nelson hammered three doubles and drove in three runs in his 3-for-4 effort. Travis Vander Molen was 2 for 3 with two runs, and David Henderson went 2 for 4 with two doubles and two runs.
Oakdale 6, East Union 1
Gabe Chavez and Kyle Emerson each clubbed a pair of hits, but it wasn’t enough as the Squires settled for a split.