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League Wins But Tough Loss For Varsity Boys
Players watch from the dugout as teammates try to get some more runners on base in recent Trans-Valley League action. The Cougars took a pair of games from Mountain House this week. Marg Jackson/The Times

Escalon’s varsity baseball boys got a win on the road to start the week, then won an extra-inning game at home on Thursday but lost infielder Zach Abraham to a freak injury that put a damper on the victory. Head coach Greg Largent said the sophomore fractured his humerus on what should have been a routine throw to first on a grounder and the team should know more about his prospects for rehabbing this week.

Starting out the week on the road, though, the Cougars traveled to Mountain House to face off with the Mustangs on Tuesday, April 19 and came away with a 9-1 win.

“Robby Rickman did another great job, threw 82 pitches and gave up just one unearned run with three hits and seven strikeouts,” said Largent. “We played decent defense, we did have three errors but it didn’t come back to haunt us.”

Mountain House got their lone run in the second inning while Escalon countered with two in the first, five in the second and two more in the sixth.

First inning scoring saw JoJo Dutra get on with a walk and steal second, coming in to score on a Rickman RBI double, then Rickman scored on an RBI double from Alec Beltran.

The big inning was the second, with all the scoring coming on extra base hits.

Logan Widmer got things started with a single, Jackson Bennett singled and Dutra got on with a bunt single to load the bases.

“Parker Cosby had a two-RBI double and then Alec Beltran hit a three-run homer, it was a majestic shot to left,” Largent explained.

Two more insurance runs for the varsity crossed the plate in the sixth, Dutra getting aboard again with a single and then stealing his way to second. After a couple more Cougars reached base, Dutra scored on a bases loaded walk to Beltran and Rickman was able to score on a ground out.

“It was a nice game,” Largent said of the road win.

The Cougars came back home to host the Mustangs in Thursday action, April 21 and had to go nine innings to get a run and the win.

“It was a strange day,” admitted Largent. “It was the third pitch of the day, the ball hit to Zach and he made an errant throw to first, we thought at first he just didn’t get a good grip on the ball but it was obvious he was in agony.”

Abraham was quickly tended to on the field and taken to an area hospital, with Largent noting that word came he had fractured his humerus and is scheduled to see an orthopedist this week.

“It took us a while to get going,” Largent said after the unsettling injury. “The guys’ minds were not on baseball at that point, it was like playing under a black cloud.”

The team was able to pull through with the win, Jackson Bennett on the mound and going the full nine innings, no runs, one walk and eight strikeouts among his 94-pitch effort.

“We got out of some tough situations in the third, fourth and seventh,” added Largent. “In the fourth, they had runners at second and third with no outs and we got out of it.”

In the bottom of the ninth, Justice Naraghi got on with a leadoff double for the home team, followed by an infield pop-up from Trevor VanBoven for the first out. Hashie Naraghi flew out to deep left but that allowed Justice Naraghi to move to third and Dutra hit a sharp grounder to second base that took a tricky hop, Naraghi coming in with the winning run as Mountain House couldn’t get Dutra at first.

“Their pitcher also did a great job,” Largent pointed out. “They got out of several jams as well, we had the bases loaded in the fourth, we hit into a couple of double plays.”

Each team had just a handful of hits, Escalon’s coming from Justice Naraghi, Dustin Lawrence, Beltran and Rickman, and Largent said the Cougars were fortunate to get the win on an otherwise tough day.

They will face Modesto Christian this week, traveling for a Thursday, April 28 contest at 4 p.m. They were slated to host the Crusaders in Tuesday afternoon action, April 26, after The Times went to press.