In what head coach Greg Largent termed “an interesting week,” the varsity baseball Cougars knocked off a previously unbeaten Kimball team, then fell to those same Jaguars in shutout fashion.
Tuesday, Escalon hosted Kimball – which came in without a loss in Valley Oak League play – and the home team Cougars eked out a 3-2 win.
“We played to our potential finally,” Largent explained. “It was a very satisfying win for us.”
Kimball scored a run in the first on a leadoff single, a stolen base and an RBI single, to go up 1-0.
“We were able to get out of the inning, there was an infield fly call after a walk, so with runners on first and second, the ball actually dropped in the infield, the (second base) runner took off, we got the nice force at third,” Largent said.
In Escalon’s half of the third, Orion Hoover got on with a leadoff single and, after an out, Dylan Ruiz singled to left. Hoover was thrown out at the plate, allowing Ruiz to get to second. Josh Miller singled and after Ruiz moved to third on a passed ball, Miller stole second, putting runners at second and third with two out.
“Luke Anderson came up and hit a sharp ground ball to second that the second baseman threw away, we were able to score both runs, taking the lead 2-1,” said Largent.
It stayed that way until the sixth, with Kimball able to tie it up on a couple of errors. Escalon went quietly in the sixth, and starting pitcher Mark Valente went six and two-thirds innings. He reached his pitch count and had to be taken out, with TY Harris coming on in relief. Harris threw two pitches – with Kimball threatening with runners on – and got the hitter to fly out, ending the top of the seventh.
Escalon won the game in walk off fashion in the bottom of the seventh. After one out, Harris ripped a double to left center and then Cam Ruiz was intentionally walked, as he had already had two hits in the game.
“With two strikes on him, Josh Miller came up with a game-winning single to right center,” Largent said.
Ruiz and Miller each had two hits; Luke Anderson, Hoover and Nico Franzia all had singles in the 3-2 win.
Valente struck out 11 and walked four.
“He pitched a whale of a game, every pitch was working for him, he kept them off balance all day,” Largent noted.
He did not, however, get credit for the win, as he left with the game tied. Harris was credited with the victory.
“We were hoping this would be the turning point, we showed what we could do and it was very satisfying; we were hoping to build on that,” noted the coach.
However, Thursday on the road at Kimball, things didn’t go the way the Cougars hoped.
“It was a very windy day, and just nothing went our way,” Largent said of taking a 10-0 loss.
Demetrius Teixeira started and went the first four innings, giving up three runs, and striking out three. He did not get tremendous support, as the Cougars committed four errors behind him.
Even so, the Kimball Jaguars had just a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning.
A leadoff single allowed by Harris, who came on in relief, was followed by three walks, forcing in a run to make it 4-0. Bryce McPherrin also took the mound and struggled as well.
Ultimately, Kimball scored four in the fifth so it was 7-0 by the end of that inning, and they scored three more in the sixth to win it, 10-0.
“We put the ball in play five times all day,” Largent said.
Conditions were tough for both sides, the coach added, but his team could not find a way to overcome them. The only hit on the day came from Harris, notching a single to right field. The Cougars struck out 12 times.
“It was a tale of two teams, for sure, a Jekyll and Hyde week,” Largent added.
The Cougars were to host Manteca on April 27, play at Manteca on April 29 and have a non-league Friday night game under the lights at Big Valley Christian.
Picking up their first win of the season, Escalon’s JV baseball Cougars won 11-9 over visiting Kimball on April 20.
“We fell behind four runs in the first inning but came back and won it,” said coach Ken Baptista. “We had a lot of hits as a team.”
Leading the way were Javier Gutierrez and Greg Adams, who each went 3-for-4 with a run batted in. Logan Anderson added a three-RBI double.
“Everybody definitely contributed,” Baptista added. “The winning pitcher was Jamin Miller, he came in and pitched three innings of two run baseball in relief and got the win.”
Thursday, the team was on the road at Kimball and came home with another victory.
“We ended up winning the football game, 27-20,” Baptista joked. “Pitching was optional.”
Escalon scored eight runs in the first and then saw Kimball consistently chip away in each inning, finally exploding for an 11-run bottom of the fourth to take an 18-13 lead.
“Then it just turned in to a war of attrition; we scored 14 runs in the sixth and they ran out of pitching first,” Baptista said.
Gutierrez was 4-for-6 with six RBI; Anderson had an inside the park home run; Austin Ewing was 3-for-3 with three RBI. Colton Page had a big game as well, going 2-for-3 with a double, triple, two runs batted in and four runs scored.
“Every single player that got in the game scored a run,” Baptista said.