Two games that should have gone in the win column, but neither one did.
Escalon’s varsity baseball boys made their own job a lot tougher, dropping back-to-back games to Ripon in Trans-Valley League play this week.
“Wednesday at Ripon, we fell behind in the second inning, 1-0, on three consecutive singles,” explained coach Greg Largent. “But then we erupted for four runs with two outs.”
Escalon was able to take the lead with that outburst, with a Garrett Denczek double, a Ben Hood double, a walk to Luis Estrada, a single by Kash Satnat and a triple by Brandon Grogan making it 4-1 Escalon.
Ripon struck back in the fourth inning, getting four consecutive walks with two outs, the number eight, nine, one and two hitters getting the free passes.
“Then we went to a full count to the third place batter and he got a bases clearing double,” Largent said.
The Cougars took starter Robby Rickman from the game then and brought in Frankie Warren, but a double followed and before it was over, Ripon had scored six runs and took a 7-4 lead.
Escalon chipped away with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings but couldn’t quite get caught up.
“That was it, we dropped it 7-6,” Largent said.
Rickman went three-and-two-thirds innings, Warren went two-and-a-third innings. Rickman, who took the loss, scattered six hits, struck out two and walked four. Warren allowed two hits.
Offensively, Denczek was 2-for-2, Grogan had a triple, Hood and Estrada each had doubles.
Friday, the Cougars hosted the Indians and it was a contest that went 12 innings.
The game was originally supposed to be played on Saturday at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton but the weather forecast, for rain, prompted the rescheduling move, putting the game back in Escalon on Friday.
“We gave up a lone run in the first inning,” said Largent.
The run scored on a two-out single and Escalon was able to get it back in the fourth, with singles from Denczek and Estrada, a fielder’s choice by Hood and an RBI single from Grogan.
“It was 1-1 until the 11th, then Ripon took the lead with a walk, a wild pitch and an error,” Largent noted. “We were able to answer in the bottom with a walk to Estrada, a bunt single by Grogan and then a bunt from Satnat.”
The runner was forced out at third on the bunt but the runners on first and second were then balked up a bag and the tying run came in when Moises Murga reached on an error.
“We had runners at first and third with one out, had a shot to win it,” said Largent.
But a strikeout and ground out ended the threat and Ripon capitalized with two runs in the top of the 12th, leading 4-2.
“We did put up a fight in the bottom of the inning,” said the coach. “After two outs, Ben Hood singled, Luis Estrada doubled, then there was an intentional walk to Grogan.”
The bases were loaded but Satnat hit into a ground out to end the game.
“Ben pitched 10 innings, did one heck of a job and deserved the win,” Largent said of Hood. “We had opportunities in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings to do something, we just didn’t get the job done.”
Hood had nine strikeouts and allowed six hits. Jackson Bennett, just called up from the JV team, took the loss, coming on to pitch two innings.
“It was a pressure cooker game for him but he did a good job,” said Largent.
Estrada was 3-for-5, Grogan 2-for-5 and the Cougars had eight hits total in the loss.
“Our backs are against the wall now, we dropped two we should have won,” Largent explained. “It’s gut check time now.”
The Cougars get back to league play by traveling to Orestimba today, Wednesday, April 2 and will host the Warriors on Friday.
“They have only lost one game so far, so this is an important week for us,” Largent said.
On Saturday, April 5, the team is scheduled to play in the Banner Island Classic, facing off with Oakdale at 1 p.m.
Ticket prices for that game are $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors.