Helping host the Mark Dickens Invitational this past week during Spring Break, the varsity Cougar baseball team lost their first two but came back with a decisive win in game number three.
Oakdale served as host school for the Invitational, and Escalon also hosted a few games, helping out their Stanislaus County neighbor.
“We had Tokay on Monday (March 28) and it was an equal game until the sixth,” explained Escalon head coach Greg Largent. “It was 1-1 until the sixth, then we misplayed a ball, gave up a walk, a double, an error … they scored five runs.”
The Cougars did mount a bit of a comeback but fell short, losing the contest to Tokay, 6-3.
“A bright spot was Justice Naraghi, he got his first start and he had a very strong outing,” Largent said, noting that Naraghi had struggled in relief but was strong when he had the chance to start a game.
“He went six-and-a-third innings, allowed nine hits, four strikeouts and two walks,” Largent added.
Offensive leaders for the Cougars were JoJo Dutra, going 2-for-2 and Robby Rickman, 3-for-4 with a double and a run batted in. Parker Cosby also added an RBI.
“Tuesday we hosted Gregori and it was kind of the same storyline,” said Largent. “It was 3-1 into the fifth, then we had a rough inning and it ended up 9-2 Gregori.”
Jackson Bennett got the start and pitched five-and-a-third innings, doing well but not getting much support. Scyler Beltran came on in relief.
Escalon got an RBI double from Hashie Naraghi along with a double from Dutra and a 2-for-2 day from Zach Abraham.
Wednesday, in the tournament finale, the Cougars hosted Dos Palos and came away with a 10-0 victory.
“We scored four in the first, two in the second, three in the third and one in the sixth,” Largent said. “The story of that game was Alec Beltran, he was 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and six RBIs.”
Beltran’s home run was a three-run shot over the left field fence in the third inning. Abraham went 2-for-4 and had the game-winning hit, driving in the tenth and final run in the sixth, after a Hashie Naraghi double and a Scyler Beltran single. Dutra also did a good job from the leadoff spot, continuing to give opposing pitchers trouble.
Rickman got the start and went five strong innings, striking out four and walking one. Abraham got his first relief appearance of the season and pitched the final inning.
“We went 5-8 in the preseason,” Largent said, noting that they would have liked more wins but did intentionally schedule tough teams. “Hopefully that gets us ready for league play.”
Largent added that the team has looked “really good” at times but then has had that one inning collapse that has cost them. They will focus on cleaning up the errors and mental mistakes as they get ready to head into Trans-Valley League action this week.
Battling hard in the three invitational games, the coach said, sets them up well.
“We have a little confidence going into league this week,” he agreed.
The varsity boys were scheduled to travel to Riverbank for a Tuesday, April 5 game to open TVL, after The Times went to press, and will host Riverbank on Thursday, April 7 to complete the ‘home and home’ series.