Scoring 22 runs in two games, both were Trans-Valley League baseball wins for the varsity Escalon Cougars. They split the league-opening two-game series with Riverbank, winning on the road Wednesday and at home on Friday.
“We did what we wanted to do,” said coach Greg Largent. “Got league started with two wins.”
The team, which played a tough preseason, needed the wins to gain back some confidence, said Largent. They got solid pitching, some timely hitting and capitalized on the Riverbank miscues to get both games into the win column.
Taking the opener 6-1, Escalon scored five runs in the first inning.
“We took advantage of three walks, two errors and two hits,” said Largent. “Robbie Steves had an RBI single and three of our five runs scored on passed balls.”
A solo run in the fourth came with a walk to Phillip Kimble, who then stole second, and he scored on a Steves RBI single. Riverbank got one run in the sixth on a pair of hits and a fielder’s choice.
“Brent Montgomery went seven innings, pitched a complete game with 14 strikeouts, he mixed his speeds really well, did a tremendous job,” Largent said.
He scattered four hits and walked just one. Escalon had six hits, Steves going 2-for-3, while Tad Dimas also struck the ball well.
Friday, it was a 16-6 win for the host Cougars, getting started early with a double off the left field wall from Kimble in the bottom of the first. He scored on a single by Nathan Chunn and another run scored that inning on an error. Six more in the second, seven in the third and one in the bottom of the fifth provided the margin of victory. Keying the six-run second were four walks, a sacrifice fly, a couple of errors and a two-run double by Ben Hood. Seven straight singles in the third, by Dimas, Kimble, Alec Nerland, Steves, Chunn and Owen Pangilinan helped provide the runs.
Riverbank had an early lead with two runs in the first, added three in the fourth and one in the fifth. The winning run scored in the bottom of the fifth for Escalon, victorious on the 10-run rule. Luis Estrada reached on a single, moved to second on a balk and moved to third on a Garrett Denczek single. He scored the winning run on a Brandon Grogan single, and the Cougars had 17 hits on the day.
Hood went four innings, giving up five runs on six hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Nerland worked the fifth, allowing a run and two hits.
Saturday, the varsity lost a non-league game at Stagg, 9-4, with Kevin Gregorio taking the hard luck loss. The JV boys, in their only game of the week, enjoyed a 10-0 win over Stagg. Riverbank doesn’t have a JV team this season.
This week, the squads host Ripon today, March 27, and go to Ripon on Thursday, March 28. Next week brings the Windemuth Classic tournament during the Spring Break holiday.