Taking the field for three games this week, Escalon was competitive but ultimately fell short in all three varsity baseball contests.
The Cougars dropped a pair of games in Valley Oak League play and lost a non-league contest on the road Saturday at Linden.
They faced off with the Oakdale Mustangs in Oakdale on Tuesday, May 4 and lost 8-7 in extra innings. Thursday, they hosted Oakdale and lost 11-2. Against Linden, it was a hard fought 11-9 loss.
“At Oakdale on Tuesday, we took them to extra innings,” head coach Greg Largent noted. “We gave up three in the first, another run in the second and another in the third so we fell behind 5-0.”
But the Cougars mounted a comeback in the sixth inning, scoring three runs in that frame.
“We got a leadoff bunt single from Josh Miller, Cam Ruiz walked and, after a Luke Anderson ground out, Demetrius Teixeira hit a three-run home run, to the opposite field, that got some energy into the dugout,” Largent said.
It also cut the lead to 5-3, but Oakdale answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth.
Trailing 6-3, the Cougars went into their potential final at bat.
“We erupted for four runs in the top of the seventh, took a 7-6 lead,” said Largent.
Pinch hitter Alex Guevara walked, followed by a Miller single, and a fielder’s choice by Anderson that forced Guevara out at third. Teixeira walked to load the bases, and Bryce McPherrin came through with an RBI single. Nico Franzia rapped out a two-RBI single to tie the game and Ty Harris had an RBI single to give Escalon the 7-6 lead.
“They hit a leadoff home run to tie it, in the bottom of the seventh,” Largent said of host Oakdale fighting back.
In the top of the eighth, JP Lial was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a ground out. He stole third but was stranded there. Oakdale got a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth, then a batter was hit by a pitch, the next batter put down a perfect bunt and a sharp single drove in the winning run.
Mark Valente got the start and hung tough, striking out five; Gio Brunetti came on in relief, as did Harris.
“We had eight hits offensively, and Nico Franzia was 3-for-4 with two RBI,” Largent said. “Thursday at home, we kind of started off the same way, we fell behind early, gave up two runs in the first, two in the second, one in the third, and were down 5-0.”
The varsity Cougars got two runs in the bottom of third with RBI singles from Anderson and Teixeira, driving in Ruiz – who got a leadoff walk – and Miller, who reached base on a single.
“It stayed that way until the sixth, then we gave up three in the sixth and three in the seventh,” explained Largent. “We just ran out of gas, the final was 11-2.”
McPherrin got the start and gave up just four earned runs in five innings of work. Harris and Guevara came on in relief.
“Luke (Anderson) had three hits, he saw the ball pretty well,” Largent said of the senior outfielder.
Saturday at Linden, the varsity team fell in an 11-9 final – a game that saw former EHS standout and assistant coach Gino Franceschetti at the helm of the Linden squad.
“Gino did a good job, he has a young team and started mostly sophomores, but this was kind of a proud moment, seeing one of your former guys getting to do what you do,” Largent said of Franceschetti coaching at the varsity level. “The student got the teacher this time.”
Escalon took an early 1-0 lead but then saw the game get away, trailing 9-2 before they rallied for six runs in the fourth to trim the deficit to 9-8.
Linden was able to cash in a couple of insurance runs to take an 11-8 lead before the Cougars tried to make a late comeback.
“We had a threat, with two outs in the seventh we had the bases loaded, we scored one run but we just fell a little short,” Largent said. “We stranded 13 runners on the day; that’s not easy to do.”
The coach said his team was playing from behind all week, making it more difficult on themselves, but there were some bright spots and big innings.
This week, Escalon was slated to host Ripon on Tuesday, May 11 and go to Mistlin Park to face off with the Indians on Thursday, May 13. Friday, May 14 they have a non-league game with Central Valley.
Like their varsity counterparts, the JV baseball boys lost two games to Oakdale. They fell 11-4 on Tuesday, 11-1 on Thursday. They did, however, bounce back with a win over Linden on Saturday.
“We took a 4-0 lead but couldn’t hold it,” head coach Ken Baptista said of the Tuesday home game against Oakdale. “Javi Gutierrez was 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the loss.”
On Thursday, it was Ryker Peters driving in the only run of the game for Escalon in the loss, knocking in a runner in the fourth inning with a single.
Saturday, Wyatt Cox got the start on the mound and Jamin Miller got the win in relief.
“We used a seven run sixth,” Baptists said about the margin of victory. “Ryker Peters and Logan Anderson had two hits apiece as well as Austin Ewing had three RBIs.”
The JV boys face off Tuesday and Thursday with Ripon; Friday with Central Valley.