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Varsity Boys Close Out League Schedule With Wins
Robby Rickman threw a solid game against Modesto Christian in a 90-plus degree day on Wednesday, helping the Cougars stay in the playoff hunt. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

One game was won between the lines, the other victory came outside the lines for Escalon’s varsity baseball Cougars this week.

On a hot Wednesday afternoon in Escalon, the varsity boys topped Modesto Christian 11-2 and in the Friday game at MC, the Cougars were awarded a forfeit win, 7-0.

“It was really an odd thing,” Escalon head coach Greg Largent said of Friday’s game. “Their coach got tossed out for contesting balls and strikes, then the umpire addressed the crowd and they started yelling at him.”

Things got a little more heated, and the tossed out coach came back onto the field, said Largent, and “got in the face” of the umpire as well as doing some finger pointing and poking the umpire in the chest.

It was then, Largent noted, that the umpire called the game, awarding Escalon the forfeit win.

“It’s kind of a guilty win,” Largent admitted, with the game only in the top of the third. Owen Pangilinan was at third with Luis Estrada at the plate and Escalon trailing 2-1 when the game was called.

“He was a young umpire, he had finally had it, it was just a combination of a lot of things,” Largent said of what prompted the decision. “But I was dumbfounded, it goes down as a 7-0 victory, no stats count but we’ll take it.”

In the home game on Wednesday, the game went the full seven innings and Robby Rickman got the start for Escalon, pitching well in a ‘must win’ situation, keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive.

“He pitched to contact, gave up 11 hits,” said Largent. “He struck out six and we played some good defense behind him.”

Escalon scored three runs in the first, two in the third, five in the fourth and one in the fifth, while MC scored single runs in the third and fifth.

A leadoff double by Owen Pangilinan in the bottom of the first started the Cougars off on the right foot, and he came in to score on a Brandon Grogan RBI single. After a walk to Ben Hood, Grogan and Hood both scored on a Kevin Gregorio single.

Caleb Mullen added a two-run single in the third, answering the one scored by the Crusaders in the top of the inning, giving Escalon a 5-1 advantage. Modesto Christian got one more run on an error, walk and an RBI single but the host Cougars erupted for five runs in one inning and added a single tally in another frame for the 11-2 final.

In the big five-run fourth inning, RBI singles from Grogan and Estrada, an RBI ground out from Gregorio and a sacrifice fly by Trevor Van Boven were the big blows.

In the bottom of the fifth, Pangilinan reached on a double, pinch hitter Ryan Dicus was hit by a pitch and after a fly out, Pangilinan was able to score on a sacrifice fly by Estrada.

“It was a real warm day, it took a toll on them,” Largent said of the players having to face temperatures that peaked in the mid-90s. “It got so hot so fast.”

The squad handled it well overall and Rickman was solid in the start. Pangilinan also had an outstanding day.

“He made some great catches in centerfield and he was 3-for-3 with three doubles,” Largent explained. “He has been our leadoff guy, doing all those little things; he really has been our catalyst.”

With the two wins this week, Escalon closes out its Trans-Valley League season with an 8-4 record. They have a league bye this week while other teams finish up, and have to wait and see how those games play out before knowing for sure if they are in the playoffs.

“It’s so tight,” Largent said of the battle for the postseason.

Hughson goes in to the week at 8-2, Ripon and Orestimba are tied at 7-3, Hilmar is 6-4. Hughson plays Orestimba this week, Ripon plays Hilmar and depending on how those contests go, the playoff picture should be clear by Thursday.

“We can get in, or we could be eliminated,” Largent said. “A lot of combinations could happen. If we end up as a three, the TVL three seed hosts a play in game.”

While the Cougars await their postseason fate, they will play a pair with Gregori, on the road today (May 7) for the final game. They hosted Gregori on Tuesday, recognizing seniors Ben Hood, Luis Estrada and Owen Pangilinan prior to the contest.