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Varsity Cougar Baseball Team Tops Patterson
Lose To Merced
Pitcher Robbie Rickman sends the pickoff attempt toward first base, with Jackson Bennett (10) covering and the Merced runner diving back in safely. Merced took a 9-2 win in the Thursday game. Marg Jackson/The Times

Hosting undefeated Patterson on Tuesday, March 22 in non-league baseball action, the Cougar varsity squad won that game but then fell in a Thursday battle against visiting Merced.

“Patterson was undefeated coming in and we got them,” said head coach Greg Largent. “It was an 8-3 victory and we scored five runs in the first, helped out by three doubles in that inning.”

JoJo Dutra singled and stole second, and after an out, Robbie Rickman doubled, followed by a Trevor Van Boven double. Dustin Lawrence was hit by a pitch, followed by a Brian Warren RBI single. Parker Cosby was then hit by a pitch and, after the second out, Zach Abraham delivered a two-run double.

“We added two more in the second,” Largent said. “Dutra singled, Justice Naraghi got on with a walk, both moved up on a wild pitch and then Lawrence hit a two-run double.”

Patterson countered with two in the top of the third, capitalizing on an error, a double, fielders choice and a single.

A solo home run by Van Boven for Escalon over the left center field fence made it 8-2 in the fifth and Patterson tacked on their final run in the seventh with two singles and two walks.

“Jackson Bennett went six-and-a-third innings, it was his fourth straight great outing, he allowed seven hits and had three strikeouts, we also turned two timely double plays,” Largent said.

In the first, Patterson had the bases loaded when the Cougars were able to get a 5-2-3 double play to erase the threat and they had another key double play, 6-4-3, in the second inning.

Justice Naraghi pitched the final two-thirds of the seventh inning in relief. Escalon rapped out nine hits in the game, including two from Dutra and two from Van Boven (double, home run).

“Hitting was contagious,” agreed Largent.

Thursday, the varsity boys welcomed Merced to town, the first time they have faced that squad.

“We played with them until the seventh,” Largent said of ultimately taking a 9-2 loss. “We made a couple of mistakes, they capitalized.”

Robbie Rickman went five innings and pitched well, said Largent, allowing just three earned runs.

Escalon got a run in the first and one in the third but couldn’t put any more on the board. Lawrence had an RBI single in the first, driving in Dutra while the third inning run came via a solo home run from Rickman.

Trailing 5-2 in the top of the seventh, that’s when the Cougars had difficulty getting out of trouble, misplaying a fly ball and making a couple of errors.

“You can’t give good teams extra outs,” Largent said.

Lawrence and Scyler Beltran both got in some relief work on the mound.

“We’re playing tough schools and starting to turn the corner,” Largent said of the team settling in and getting comfortable with their roles.

This week, the varsity will help host the Mark Dickens Memorial Tournament out of Oakdale, with some of the games played at EHS.

For the junior varsity team, only one game was on the schedule this past week, as they played Patterson on Tuesday and walked off a 10-0 winner.

“Steven Grossi pitched five innings, had just one hit allowed,” explained head JV coach Ken Baptista.

Offensive leaders, he added, were Lucca Dutra, 3-for-3 with a triple and Nick DeWeerd, also going 3-for-3.