Still looking to find their groove, the Escalon varsity baseball boys tied one and lost one in a pair of non-league contests this past week.
They were on the road for a Tuesday game at Modesto High School on March 1, then hosted Patterson on Thursday, March 3.
At Modesto, it was a rocky start but that had nothing to do with what was happening on the diamond.
“While we were warming up, tossing balls in the outfield, there was a full on gang fight on the other side of the fence,” head coach Greg Largent said of the game in Modesto. “We had to go on lockdown for a while.”
The incident was gotten under control by responding authorities and the game went on, though with a delayed start time. That ended up figuring in to the final 8-8 score, as the teams ended with a draw, running out of daylight.
Escalon did get off to a fast start once the contest started, scoring two runs in the top of the first and then adding six more in the top of the third to jump out to an 8-0 lead.
The Cougars got a two-run homer from Mark Valente in the inning, as well as RBI singles from Jackson Runnels, Justin Fiori and Cam Ruiz. They also capitalized on a couple of errors as they rolled to the eight-run advantage.
But they allowed Modesto to chip their way back into the contest, scoring four runs in the third, two more in the fourth to trim the lead to 8-6. Single tallies in the fifth and sixth left the teams with the 8-8 tie as the game had to be called due to darkness.
Josh Miller and Zack Valencia handled the bulk of the pitching duties on the afternoon.
Escalon also committed three errors and allowed eight walks.
Thursday, they were on the home field and host the Patterson Tigers, ending up with a 15-5 loss.
Largent said they made some roster moves prior to the game, sending some sophomores down to the JV level and bringing some freshmen and sophomores up to the varsity.
“Parker Saunders, a sophomore lefty, got the start; he went three-and-two-thirds and did a good job,” said Largent. “He gave up four runs in the first but three were unearned; we made seven errors and he fought through them, we also turned a nice 1-6-3 double play.”
Escalon looked poised to get a couple of runs back in the bottom of the first, getting runners to second and third with no outs, but then had two strikeouts and a runner thrown out at home trying to score on a passed ball, ending the threat.
Jamin Miller pitched two-and-a-third innings of relief, doing well, but the Cougars could not get all the runs back they gave away.
“We dropped two fly balls, booted a double play ball,” noted Largent.
The home team did score three runs in the bottom of the fourth, keyed by RBI singles from Jamin Miller and Valencia. In the fifth, they added a couple more, with pinch hit walks worked out by Austin Ewing and Nolan Reynolds; RBI from Valencia with a single, Jamin Miller with a ground out.
The final was 15-5 Patterson in six innings.
“We’re having a hard time playing catch,” Largent admitted of the team continuing to commit errors.
This week, the varsity has two home games on the schedule, with a Tuesday, March 8 game slated hosting Downey and Thursday, March 10 against Bret Harte.
“The pitching was better Thursday and we’re still trying some different combinations,” Largent added, as they try to get the team on the right track before the start of Trans-Valley League action later this month. “We’ve got one week left of preseason.”
Head coach Ken Baptista and the JV Cougars have gotten off to a strong start this season. Finding success both at home and on the road, the JV boys entered the week with a 4-0 record. They took an 8-3 win at Ceres in their opener, following that up with an 8-4 home win against Calaveras. Putting together a March 1 win on the road at Modesto, the JV boys defeated the host squad 11-7 and then they defeated Patterson by a 6-2 decision in a home game on March 3.