In a pair of ‘play in’ games for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs, Escalon’s varsity boys baseball team ended their season on Monday, May 12 while the girls prevailed in their game to see more competition.
The contests were both held in Escalon, after sports press time for The Times. Escalon’s regular season final two games were against Gregori and information on those games can be found in Sports, Page A13.
Varsity baseball hosted Calaveras on Monday, as the two number three seeds did battle for the right to advance to the D-V playoffs.
For Escalon, it was a 5-3 loss, marking the first time in more than a decade that the Cougars will not be in the playoffs.
“We gave up two runs in the first and two in the second, dug ourselves a hole,” explained coach Greg Largent. “The first two runs were unearned, then they scored after we got two outs in the second.”
Escalon worked to get out of the hole, getting a single run on the board in the third inning.
Kash Satnat walked, Adam Roberson singled and Satnat advanced to third on a fielders choice by Owen Pangilinan. Garrett Denczek then notched an RBI single to get the run in.
Calaveras made it a 5-1 game in the top of the sixth on a single, stolen base and an RBI single.
“We did make a little noise in the sixth, Brandon Grogan led off with a bunt single, then Luis Estrada singled and Ben Hood drew a walk to load the bases,” Largent said.
Kevin Gregorio drove in Grogan with an RBI single to cut the lead to 5-2 and Trevor Van Boven popped out for the first out of the inning.
“We used Robby Rickman as a pinch hitter and he hit one to the warning track in left, we got an RBI sacrifice fly out of it, but another three feet and we would probably be celebrating,” Largent said, with Rickman just missing the grand slam that would have put the Cougars in the lead. They had to settle for getting one more run to trim the deficit to 5-3 after six innings.
“We went quietly in the seventh,” Largent said of the unanticipated, uncharacteristic early exit for the team in the postseason. “It was very frustrating, they had a left-handed pitcher, they softballed us to death, off speed pitches, we could only muster seven hits and couldn’t get the timely one.”
Ben Hood went the distance, the senior giving up five runs in his final high school appearance, striking out six and allowing 11 hits. He didn’t walk a batter but he did hit one.
“It was just the story of our season, the ups and downs,” Largent said of the roller coaster that saw the team get in and out of a groove multiple times.
“I feel bad for the seniors but we didn’t play well enough to win,” Largent admitted. “You can’t spot a team four runs … we dug too deep a hole for ourselves.”
For the varsity squad, it is “back to the drawing board,” Largent said, as they will lose Hood, Pangilinan and Estrada but will bring back some juniors with experience and welcome players from the league champion JV team.
“We are losing three solid players but we’ll see how we reload, hopefully that loss will haunt them, they’ll think about it all offseason.”
Calaveras, the number three seed out of the Mother Lode League, draws the top seed in the Golden Empire League, Capital Christian, for the first round of the playoffs on Thursday night at Billy Hebert Field in Stockton.
Largent, meanwhile, will allow himself time for a couple of deep breaths and then start in on summer ball during the first week of June, working with the young players to help them improve their skills.
“We miss making the playoffs for the first time in 11 years,” Largent said, admitting that it’s strange to not have any more contests. The Cougars finished third in the TVL at 8-4 and went 16-11 overall.
Escalon’s varsity softball girls got a superb performance from senior Haley Yandell on the mound and some solid hitting, taking down Golden Empire League three seed Dixon, 7-3. Escalon went in as the number three seed out of the TVL.
“Haley got the win, went all seven innings,” coach Art Brooks said of the Monday afternoon contest. “She scattered six hits and had to battle through a few Cougar errors. You can never tell if she’s up 10 runs or down 10, she’s got good composure on the mound.”
Yandell walked two and struck out four.
The Lady Cougars jumped out on top early with three runs in the first inning and added two in the second for a 5-0 lead.
“In the first, we got a bases clearing triple by Marisol Diaz-Morales,” said Brooks. “We got two in the second, Kristin Beckman had an RBI, Honda Hernandez had an RBI.”
Dixon came back in the third and scored two runs, the run-scoring opportunity created by a couple of defensive errors, said Brooks, with the clean-up hitter then rapping out a two-RBI double.
“They scored another one in the sixth, also created by a couple of Cougar errors,” added Brooks. “Then we came back and scored two in the sixth, with an RBI single from Lexi Prim and Marisol had a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning.”
For the game, Hernandez went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in, Beckman was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Diaz-Morales was 1-for-3 with four RBIs and a triple. Jordan Roberts went 2-for-3 for the varsity squad, while Yandell, Prim and Cindy DeFreitas all added hits to the offensive output as well.
“This win gets us to Wednesday against Linden,” Brooks said of qualifying for the May 14 opening round playoff game.
The varsity girls will travel to Arnaiz Field in Stockton for the 5 p.m. showdown with Linden, which is the top seed from the Mother Lode League.
“That’s what you get when you are the number three seed,” Brooks said, noting that his team will take on the top team in the bracket.
Escalon compiled a Trans-Valley League record of 7-5, the third and final team to qualify for playoffs out of the TVL. Last year, said Brooks, they took down the number one seed in the first round, at that time defeating Calaveras. They will need another solid effort to get past Linden today.
“If we win the first game, that will guarantee us another day,” Brooks said.
Escalon has not faced Linden yet this season.
“We got rained out the day we were supposed to play them,” noted Brooks. “We will go out there and do our best.”