From starting off the week by winning a battle of unbeaten teams to taking a come-from-behind championship game victory, the varsity baseball Cougars enjoyed a successful, satisfying run in the Mark Dickens Invitational.
Scheduled over Spring Break, the Cougars opened up play on their home field, hosting some contests while main host school Oakdale also had games on their baseball diamonds.
Escalon took on Turlock in the opening round on Monday, April 2.
“It was a crazy week,” agreed head coach Greg Largent. “Against Turlock, it was back and forth, we ended getting a walk-off homer by Nash Satnat.”
The final was 6-5 Escalon.
Both teams came in with perfect records on the season but only the Cougars left the field with their unbeaten streak still intact.
Turlock scored first, though, getting two runs on the board in the first inning. Escalon scratched back to tie it up in the bottom of the inning, Parker Cosby getting on with a double and moving to third on a Max Nicholas bunt. The throw was wild and Cosby scored, with Nicholas coming in later on an RBI single from Cole Gilbert.
After an error, Colton Lowney knocked in a run with a single in the third to put Escalon up 3-2 but Turlock tied it up with a run in the sixth on a three-base error and a sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of that inning, Escalon went up 5-3, converting on a pair of walks, a fielder’s choice, an error and singles from Gilbert and Estephan Salcedo.
“Then they got a two-run homer to tie it, 5-5,” Largent said of Turlock battling back in the top of the seventh.
The Cougars, however, still had a little bit of fight in them as well.
“In the bottom of the seventh, after an out, Nash Satnat got hold of a 2-0 fastball and had a walk-off home run,” Largent said of the 6-5 Cougar victory.
Parker Cosby got the start and went the distance, allowing five runs, one walk and striking out six while throwing 101 pitches.
Day two of the tournament saw Escalon taking on Lodi in the Tuesday, April 3 game.
“It was another walk-off win,” said Largent, this time the Cougars prevailing in a 5-4 final.
Lodi went up 1-0 with a run in the third but Escalon answered with four runs of their own in the bottom of that frame, keyed by a two-run double from Lowney.
“It was 4-1 into the sixth, then we gave up three runs,” noted the coach. “But we also got out of a huge jam.”
Anthony LaRossa got the start and threw well but often found himself behind in the count, and gave way to Paul Ayala. LaRossa allowed four hits and six walks. Ayala gave up two hits and one walk and Lowney wrapped up the game, with three strikeouts highlighting his time on the mound.
Knotted at 4-4, Escalon got the win in the bottom of the seventh.
“Parker Cosby walked and stole second, Max Nicholas walked and Lucca Dutra came up with an RBI single for the walk-off win,” Largent said of the second straight thriller.
On Wednesday, the scene shifted to Oakdale, with Escalon meeting the host team for the championship of the Mark Dickens Invitational. As both teams had won both games coming in, they did a coin toss for home team and Escalon won the toss.
“It was another wild finish, these guys are finding a way to come home with victories,” said Largent, with the Cougars improving to 14-0 overall with the April 4 win.
Colton Lowney got the start and went the distance.
“Colton did a great job on the hill and we played good defense behind him,” noted the coach.
Oakdale scored a run in the third on three singles and a walk and added another in the fourth with a double and a safety squeeze, leading 2-0.
Escalon cut the lead in half on a solo home run by Lowney and then tied it up in the fifth, Satnat taking a bases loaded walk to bring home the equalizer, 2-2.
The host Mustangs went ahead in the sixth on a single, a bunt and a fielder’s choice, taking a 3-2 lead.
Escalon went quietly in the sixth but were able to get two runs in their final at bat in the bottom of the seventh to secure their third walk-off of the week.
“After an out, Parker Cosby walked, Max Nicholas singled and then Lucca Dutra singled to drive in Parker,” Largent explained. “Cole Gilbert then got an RBI single.”
Gilbert’s long blast went to deep right field, hitting at the base of the wall to bring in Nicholas, who raced home from second with the winning run, celebrating at home with teammate Zach Abraham before the dugout emptied out to mob Gilbert near second base to celebrate the tournament championship.
Largent praised the efforts of the coaching staff in assisting with the tournament, including Bill Grogan, Don Nickerson, Mark George, Harold Hood, Dave Satnat and JV coach Ken Baptista.
“This was exciting but I told the guys, don’t be satisfied,” Largent said of earning the invitational title. “We still have bigger goals.”
Chief among them will be handling Ripon in Trans-Valley League play this week. The Cougars will travel to Ripon on Wednesday, April 11 and then host the Indians on Friday, April 13. Game time for the contests is 4 p.m.
Escalon will also travel to Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton to face off with Linden in a non-league contest on Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m.