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Cougars Blast Past Rival Ripon In TVL Twosome
Nicholas dive
Diving back safely to first on the pick-off attempt is Escalons Max Nicholas, beating the throw to the bag. Nicholas had one of the 10 Cougar hits in a 7-0 win over Ripon on Friday. Marg Jackson/The Times

In what head coach Greg Largent described as a “great week,” the Escalon varsity baseball team swept rival Ripon in a pair of Trans-Valley League games.

“It’s the first time we’ve gotten Ripon since 2013,” noted Largent of twice topping the Indians, facing them in the ‘home and home’ series, starting at Ripon on Wednesday, April 5.

“The boys came out ready,” Largent said.

In Ripon, the final was a 9-5 victory in Escalon’s favor.

“It was pretty tight until the seventh,” said Largent.

The Cougars knocked Ripon’s ace out of the game with a Colton Lowney line drive that hit him just above the elbow in the top of the third. They couldn’t take advantage with any runs in that inning, but did get to the Indian relievers shortly thereafter.

Still, it was the Indians that took the lead, scoring two runs in the bottom of the third.

“They got two runs on four singles, all with two outs,” noted Largent. “We answered right back in the top of the fourth.”

Escalon put four runs on the board, going ahead 4-2.

Lucca Dutra singled, Justice Naraghi singled and then the two pulled off the double steal. Zach Abraham walked and, following a ground out, Nash Satnat ripped a two-RBI double. Estephan Salcedo followed with an RBI ground out and Max Nicholas notched an RBI single to push it to a 4-2 Cougar lead.

“We added on in the fifth with three straight singles,” explained Largent.

Lowney, Parker Cosby and Dutra all singled, Abraham followed with an RBI and another RBI ground out made it 6-2.

“Justice then got the shutdown inning,” Largent said of his starter, who needed only six pitches to retire the Indians in the fifth.

After Escalon went quietly in the top of the fifth, Ripon battled back to push three runs across the plate in the sixth, cutting the lead to 6-5.

“Steven Grossi came on in relief with the bases loaded, he got out of it,” Largent said.

Escalon regrouped and scored three more runs in the seventh with a single from Cosby, double by Dutra and singles from Naraghi and Abraham to make it 9-5.

“We hit extremely well, we had 15 hits on the day,” said Largent. “We also played good defense.”

Naraghi got the win, going five-and-a-third innings; Grossi got the save with an inning and two-thirds of relief.

Hot hitters for Escalon were Lowney and Dutra, 3-for-4; Abraham, 2-for-3; Nicholas and Naraghi each went 2-for-4 and Satnat had the big two-RBI double.

Eager to get the home game in Friday, despite the poor weather forecast, the teams were able to play and this time, the Cougars took a 7-0 shutout win off the diamond.

“We tarped the field Thursday night,” the coach explained, with plenty of people working on the field prior to game time Friday to get it ready.

Escalon scored three runs in the fourth and four in the sixth on the way to the win.

In the fourth inning, Cosby singled and Naraghi was hit by a pitch. As the two attempted the double steal, the ball was overthrown, allowing Cosby to score and Naraghi to move to third. Abraham then walked and stole second, Jake Alvarado came up with a huge two-run single to right field to make it 3-0.

“This was a game where everyone got involved, the bench guys did great, the dugout was rocking and rolling,” Largent said. “Even the guys that didn’t get in were involved, whether it was keeping the book, the spray charts … there’s just something different when it’s your rival.”

Leading 3-0 after four, the Cougars got a strong afternoon of pitching from Nick Warren, who went six-and-two-thirds, striking out five and allowing four hits.

In the sixth inning, Escalon put the game away. Naraghi doubled and Abraham followed with a single. Alvarado then attempted the push bunt to move the runners along but no one covered first so he ended up with a bunt base hit. Naraghi scored on a wild pitch, Salcedo had an RBI single, Cosby rapped a single to drive in two and pinch runner Lowney was thrown out at the plate, trying to score on the hit.

“That’s okay, he was aggressive, tried to score,” Largent said.

In the top of the seventh, Warren struggled to get the first two outs and was taken out with runners on and two down.

“His pitch count was up there, I wanted to get him out of there and let him get an ovation,” Largent said. “Grossi came on and threw one pitch to get the out, put the exclamation point on it.”

Again, the Cougars were in rhythm at the plate, rapping out 10 hits. Cosby went 3-for-3, with two hits each from Naraghi and Alvarado, single hits from Nicholas, Abraham and Salcedo.

“It was a very emotional week,” Largent said of taking down the rival Indians in back-to-back action.

The Cougars now stand with a 14-1 overall mark, and so far are undefeated in league play.

They will be home to host Mountain House on Wednesday, April 12 and then play on the road at Mountain House on Thursday. They are scheduled to take part in the Mark Dickens Memorial Tournament next week, Monday through Wednesday, April 17 through 19 in Oakdale.