After a stronger than anticipated start, the last few weeks of the season brought the Escalon JV baseball boys back down to earth. They couldn’t get a win in their final week of Trans-Valley League play, losing to Hilmar at home and on the road, closing out the campaign with a 7-5 TVL mark. Escalon has its league bye this week and has to wait until all the other teams finish to see where they end up in the league standings.
Head coach Ken Baptista said with five losses, they went into the week in a tie for second but depending on what other teams do, could drop in the standings when all the games have been completed.
He was hoping they could get back on track in league play but were unable to do that against Hilmar.
Hosting the Yellowjackets on April 30, they lost a 7-4 decision.
“We gave up two runs in the second, two in the third and fell behind 4-0,” Baptista said. “We tied it up 4-4 in the fourth.”
A single by Giavanni Brunetti, a walk to Tyler Medina and an RBI single from Demetrius Teixeira got the young Cougars on the board. Evan Bava followed with an RBI single and then Cam Maruyama notched a two-run single to get the JV boys even.
But miscues on the field ultimately gave Hilmar the edge.
“Our defense has let us down the last couple of weeks,” Baptista explained. “Our pitchers struck out 15 but our defense hurt us.”
Teixeira got the start on the mound and took the loss; Orion Hoover came on in relief with two outs in the fourth.
“He struck out eight of the 13 batters he faced,” Baptista said of Hoover’s strong outing. “He allowed just one unearned run.”
Escalon couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it, and hurt themselves defensively, falling in their final game at home.
Thursday, they headed to Hilmar and played with more intensity and even took the early lead, scoring a run in the first on a single by Teixeira, a walk to Brunetti and an RBI single from Maruyama.
But that was all they could put on the board and in the bottom of the first, the defensive woes continued.
“The first pitch Giavanni Brunetti threw, it was a dropped fly ball and they went on to score four runs in the first,” Baptista said of the host JV Yellowjackets.
The final score was 5-3 in favor of Hilmar.
Brunetti went three-and-a-third innings, settling down after the tough first frame and Alex Guevara came in to pitch the final two-and-two-thirds, striking out three.
“We made a late push in the sixth inning, we had the bases loaded with two outs but couldn’t get a hit,” said the coach.
Some base running errors also cut short some potential JV Cougar rallies.
On the day, Cameron LoValvo was 2-for-4; Maruyama was 2-for-3 with a run batted in.
A tough showing in the Oakdale tournament during spring break seemed to shake the team’s confidence a bit, Baptista said, and they had a hard time getting back on track.
They finished league play with a 7-5 record and were 12-13 overall.
“There were a lot of good, positive things,” Baptista added of the campaign. “It was a very enjoyable season.”