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Cougar Varsity Squad Goes 2-2 In Windemuth Action
First baseman Adam Roberson keeps the runner close as pitcher Robby Rickman (4) gets ready to deliver the pitch during recent league play. The varsity Cougars went 2-2 in spring break tournament action and wrap up the regular season this week. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Varsity baseball players got plenty of work over the long holiday break, playing four games in the Windemuth Tournament.

Much like their season so far, the tourney was an up and down series for the squad, winning two and losing two.

They started out with a Tuesday, April 22 game against Turlock and lost in a 13-1 final.

“We were a little overmatched,” said coach Greg Largent. “We just ran into a buzz saw, they were a real good hitting team, they pounded out 14 hits.”

Jackson Bennett started for Escalon and went two innings, allowing eight earned runs and giving up 10 of the 13.

“It was kind of a tough outing for him, but it’s going to be good for him in the long run,” Largent noted. “It was a good learning experience for him, and will make him a better pitcher in the long run.”

Frankie Warren pitched two innings in relief, and the game only went five innings, Warren allowed three runs on three hits.

Escalon scored one run in the second, with a leadoff single from Trevor Van Boven, he advanced to third on an Adam Roberson single, Christian Fernandez walked, and then Owen Pangilinan knocked in the run with an RBI single.

“We loaded the bases a couple of times, in the fourth and fifth innings, just couldn’t get the timely hit,” Largent said, adding that his team only had five hits total for the day.

On Wednesday, they played games two and three, winning both ends of the doubleheader.

They took a 4-1 win over Modesto High with Robby Rickman pitching shutout ball until a leadoff homer in the top of the seventh spoiled the bid.

“It was another great outing for him,” Largent said of Rickman, who needed just 94 pitches to complete the game. “He gave up only four hits, struck out five, no walks, hit one batter. We played very good defensively behind him, only committed one error.”

Caleb Mullen scored in the third on an RBI single from Pangilinan, and the Cougars scored three times in the fourth inning, with keys including a double from Luis Estrada, a single from Kevin Gregorio, a wild pitch, walk and a two run error on a fly ball hit by Mullen.

Then, in a Trans-Valley League pairing, the Cougars faced off with Modesto Christian and ended up with 11-1 victory.

“Frankie Warren, pitched, his best outing of the year, struck out 10 in a five-inning game, walked one, he did give up nine hits but we were able to play some good defense, we did not throw the ball around, we had two errors but they didn’t harm us,” Largent said.

Escalon scored seven runs in the second, taking advantage of three walks, three hits and two errors in the inning. Two more scored in the fourth, with a leadoff double from Brandon Grogan and a single in the inning from Roberson, combined with a hit batter and a passed ball.

In the fifth, Jackson Bennett singled, Grogan singled, Estrada singled to drive in a run, followed by a walk and another walk that allowed a run to score. Escalon had 11 runs on nine hits.

“We finished in the middle of our pool, drew Enochs on Thursday. The first three games we played at  Modesto High, Thursday we played at Enochs, we dropped a tough one,” said Largent. “We lost 5-4 but it was a very competitive game, Enochs is a pretty strong team.”

Escalon got on the board in the first on a Grogan single, steal of second and an Estrada RBI single.

Enochs took a 2-1 lead in the third and Escalon tied it up on an RBI double from Gregorio in the next inning. With three runs in the bottom of the frame, Enochs went up 5-2.

Grogan got the start and pitched three innings, giving up all five runs, three of them earned. Ben Hood came on in relief and then the Cougars mounted a comeback in their final at bat.

“With two outs we put together a rally, which was nice,” Largent said.

Mullen singled, Pangilinan singled and Grogan and Estrada each had RBI doubles to close the gap to 5-4. They weren’t able to get the tying run home, however.

“At least we put up a fight,” Largent said. “We hung with them, we beat ourselves a little bit. They took advantage of our miscues, you can’t do that against good teams.”

Escalon did have 12 hits on the day, two each from Pangilinan, Hood, Mullen and Grogan, while Estrada had three hits and Gregorio ripped a double.

“We saw a lot of guys get some at bats, hopefully this will propel us into this last week of league play,” Largent added.

The Cougars will host Modesto Christian on Wednesday, then travel to MC to close out the regular season on Friday, May 2.