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Baseball Cougars Still Looking For Winning Combination
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With head coach Greg Largent coaching at third, pinch runner Alfonso Gonzalez gets a lead down the line during Friday’s home game against Ripon. He came in to score but it was Escalon’s only run of the game in a 10-1 loss. Marg Jackson/The Times

It hasn’t been an easy season so far for the Escalon varsity baseball Cougars.

With just one win so far, they started Trans-Valley League play this past week and struggled once again, falling in a pair of contests to Ripon.

They also lost a non-league game on Saturday to a team from Nampa, Idaho.

Head coach Greg Largent said the team is giving up too many runs and scoring too few, not a recipe for success.

“We’re giving up a lot of runs with two outs,” Largent pointed out. “We allowed 32 runs on the week and 20 of them came with two outs.”

The Cougars were on the road to play Ripon on March 16 and then hosted the Indians in Escalon Friday, March 18. They played the Idaho team on March 19 to close out a busy week.

The final on Wednesday, March 16 was a 6-0 loss.

“You can’t give extra outs, especially to good teams and hats off to Ripon, they capitalized,” Largent said.

Escalon gave the Indians a run in the first on an error and that would be all the host team would need, though they tacked on five more runs over the course of the contest.

“We only mustered four hits on the day,” Largent said.

They had a scoring opportunity in the fifth, as JP Lial reached on an infield single with one out and Cam Ruiz doubled. But they were stranded as the next hitters were retired on an infield pop-up and a check swing ground out.

“Mark Valente started and he threw strikes but they made adjustments with two strikes and got some hits,” Largent said of Ripon.

Jamin Miller came on in relief.

For the game, Ruiz and Colton Page both had doubles for Escalon, Valente and Lial had singles.

Friday, hosting Ripon, it was a 10-1 loss for the Cougars.

“It was closer than that early,” Largent said of the game being tight through the first few innings.

It was the brother duo of Josh Miller on the mound and Jamin Miller behind the plate to start the contest.

“Josh deserved better,” Largent noted of the senior lefty. “We did commit four errors on the day.”

Largent said it was a high point of the game to see the ‘brother battery’ doing the work on the mound and at home, but ultimately the team was again disappointed and took the loss.

Bright spots included Ruiz, 3-for-3 in the leadoff spot and Zack Valencia going 2-for-3.

Escalon got their run in the fourth inning. Valente walked and went to second on a hit by Valencia. Alfonso Gonzalez came in to pinch run for Valente and moved up on a ground out, then scored on a Josh Miller RBI fly out.

The Cougars did collect seven hits on the day but Ripon had 13, and scored seven of their 10 runs with two outs.

“Saturday we had a wild game with the Nampa team, they took a 2-0 lead and then we scored five in the bottom of the first,” said Largent.

The runs kept coming for both teams and the visitors from Idaho eventually put a 16-12 victory on the books.

“We scored more runs than usual,” Largent said, but they hurt themselves by committing seven errors on the day.

Valente was 3-for-4 with three RBI while Lial had a two run single in the five-run first. Colton Page and Nico Franzia had doubles and freshman Josh Fiore got the start, pitching the first two-and-two-thirds innings.

Escalon looks to get on track as they continue with league play this week, hosting Livingston in a 4 p.m. contest on Wednesday, March 23 and then traveling to play on Friday in Livingston, following the JV game.

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Leading off first as the Ripon pitcher gets ready to send one toward the plate, Escalon’s Nolan Reynolds was stranded on base when the hitter struck out, ending the Friday afternoon league game with the visiting Indians. Marg Jackson/The Times