It was a busy – but ultimately unsuccessful – week for Escalon’s varsity baseball team.
The Cougars lost a pair of Trans-Valley League contests to Modesto Christian and then fell to Linden in a Saturday night game at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton.
“It was a rough week,” said coach Greg Largent.
The boys started off with a 2-1 loss on the road April 9 to the Crusaders.
“It was a well-played game, but we wasted another effort from Carson George,” Largent said of not being able to provide the run support for their pitcher. “He threw a complete game, allowed two runs on five hits, struck out four and walked one, he threw just 90 pitches.”
Modesto Christian got single runs in the second and third to take a 2-0 lead.
In the seventh inning, Escalon had an opportunity but fell short. Brad Hagglund worked out a walk as a pinch hitter, Clayton Ferreira got a walk and Devin Roberson was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with no outs.
“Ethan Johnson hit into a fielder’s choice that scored a run,” Largent said, with one out and runners on the corners.
But Lucca Dutra and Cole Gilbert each struck out looking, and the Cougars lost by a 2-1 final.
“We had the right guys coming up in the right situation but we didn’t even put the ball in play,” Largent noted.
Wednesday at home, the Cougars were looking to even the series but again the Crusaders had their number and Escalon fell by a 9-4 decision.
It started out better for the home team, as they were able to put three runs on the board in the first inning.
Noah Rast got on with a one-out single, Dutra singled, Gilbert singled and Luke Anderson had a double. Modesto Christian got one run back in the top of the second and Escalon had the chance to add to the lead in the bottom of the inning. Roberson doubled and Ty Harris advanced him to third but they couldn’t get him home; it was a similar situation in the fourth when Anderson doubled, Johnson moved him over with a ground out but then Anderson was stranded at third.
Those missed opportunities ended up coming back to haunt the Cougars.
“They were able to score five runs with two outs in the top of the fifth,” Largent said of Modesto Christian. “Cole Gilbert was cruising along, then there was a walk, a couple of errors, a couple more walks.”
Add in a passed ball and a wild pitch and what was a 3-1 lead turned in to a 6-3 deficit.
“They added three more runs with two outs in the sixth,” Largent said, with Bryce McPherrin relieving Gilbert on the mound. The Crusaders used a hit batter, an error, a walk and a couple of singles to extend the lead to 9-3.
“We got one run in the seventh, Dylan Ruiz doubled, Zach Hearn singled and Ruiz scored on a wild pitch,” Largent said.
But they couldn’t get any closer and lost 9-4.
“We are having a hard time concentrating with two outs,” Largent added of the team adding to their own woes.
One bright spot, they did outhit the Crusaders 9-8 in the Wednesday game.
Saturday’s game in Stockton, getting the chance to play at Banner Island Ballpark, saw them fall to Linden by an 11-7 final.
“We gave up an eight-spot in the first,” the coach noted of a tough first inning. “We did chip away and the final was a respectable 11-7.”
Escalon scored single runs in the second and third, three in the fourth and two in the seventh.
“We hit the ball much better, had 11 hits,” Largent said. “We shot ourselves in the foot (with the big first inning for Linden) but the boys kept battling and everybody got in on the big stage; that was good.”
Johnson went two-and-two-thirds innings, Harris went three and had a solid outing, with Hearn coming in to get the last out.
“Offensively, we got two hits from Hagglund, Dutra and Roberson,” Largent added.
The losses have come but Largent said he sees his team still working hard.
“It’s not for lack of trying,” he agreed. “It just seems like we have one inning with a lack of concentration.”
The varsity boys were scheduled to play at Hughson on Tuesday, April 16 and host the Huskies in a 4 p.m. contest on Thursday, April 18.
“We need to stop this losing streak, get our confidence back,” Largent said.