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Varsity Boys Close Out Preseason With Two Wins
Second baseman Caleb Mullen makes the throw to first for the out during play at home on Thursday against Sierra. Marg Jackson/The Times

With three games on the schedule this past week, the goal was to win two out of three.

The varsity boys reached that goal, but also took a tough loss and know they have some work to do as they start Trans-Valley League play this week.

“We’re young, we’ll take one step forward and sometimes, three or four back,” said coach Greg Largent.

The varsity started the week at home, hosting East Union on Wednesday, and came away with an 11-3 victory.

“We got a strong pitching performance from Robbie Rickman, he threw strikes and we did a good job playing defense behind him,” Largent explained.

Rickman scattered 10 hits and struck out four in getting the win.

Escalon scored in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings, with single runs in the first and fifth. Four runs scored in the third, the key a two-run double by Kevin Gregorio, and five runs crossed the plate in the sixth, with three walks, two singles and a handful of balks accounting for those runs.

Luis Estrada was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two sacrifice flies on the day, Ben Hood was 3-for-4 with two runs batted in and Brandon Grogan went 2-for-4.

“We had a scare when Owen Pangilinan was hit by a pitch in the face, it grazed his check and he is okay but we all gasped for a minute,” Largent said.

East Union had two runs in the second, one in in the sixth.

On Thursday, the team faced off at home against Sierra of Manteca and took a lopsided loss, getting shut down in a 16-0 defeat.

“Our youth came out, we made mistakes and they exploited every one of them,” Largent said of the visitors capitalizing. “It was just one of those games you have now and again, it was a frustrating day.”

Escalon issued nine walks, hit three batters and the team also committed four errors, all helping Sierra ride home with the win.

“They turned two double plays, Luis Estrada had a hit in the fifth inning for our only hit,” added Largent.

Brandon Grogan got the start and went just over two innings, taking the loss. Christian Fernandez was good in relief, with Frankie Warren also getting some work in.

“Friday at Stagg was a pivotal game for us, kind of a turning point for the kids,” Largent said. “After a loss like that, how do you react, how do you respond?”

The team answered the questions with a 17-5 thumping of Stagg, blasting out 16 hits and taking advantage of six Stagg errors.

Ben Hood went five innings for the win, striking out six and allowing four runs, three of them earned.

Estrada was 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and Kash Satnat was 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. Grogan rapped out three hits, drove in four runs and had a triple. Adam Roberson had two hits and an RBI, Moises Murga had a pinch hit RBI. Rickman had an RBI single to round out the offense.

“It was nice to see how the boys responded, it was a good effort,” said Largent. “A real character test.”

They will open up Trans-Valley League play today, Wednesday, hosting Riverbank and then travel to play the Bruins on the road Friday. They are also scheduled to host Sonora on Saturday. The TVL contests will both start at 4 p.m.