It has been an incredibly tough season for the Escalon varsity Cougars on the baseball diamond. This week was no different, as they lost a pair of league contests to Ripon Christian and a non-league game to Linden.
The boys were on the field at RC on Tuesday, home to host the Knights on Thursday and then were back on the diamond for a Saturday morning game with the Linden Lions.
“You can basically change the name of the teams and keep the same story,” head coach Greg Largent said of the trio of losses. “It’s frustrating but we just keep plugging along.”
Tuesday on the road at Ripon Christian, it was a 10-0 loss in six innings for Escalon.
“There was just not a lot of offense, we mustered only four hits,” Largent explained of the May 18 game. “It was kind of a close game until the fifth but then they broke it open, they scored five runs in the fifth and delivered the knockout blow in the sixth.”
Taking the mound for Escalon was Mark Valente, who went the distance.
“He pitched decent; we misplayed a couple of fly balls in the wind, we had four errors on the day,” said Largent.
Getting the hits for Escalon, all singles, were Demetrius Teixeira, Bryce McPherrin, Nico Franzia and Gio Brunetti.
“Thursday we were back at home, it was a real windy afternoon, we ended up with a 16-8 loss,” Largent said. “They actually scored five in the first, they had a wind-aided grand slam, it was a fly ball to left that just kept carrying and went out of the park.”
So the Cougars found themselves down 5-0 before their first at-bat. But they were able to get a couple back, as Ty Harris rapped out a leadoff single, Nico Franzia singled and Teixeira notched an RBI double. Valente then followed with an RBI single to cut it to 5-2.
Escalon added one in the third, with a leadoff double from Franzia, a ground out by Teixeira, followed by a sacrifice fly from McPherrin to make it 5-3.
Ripon Christian answered and scored three in the fourth, going up 8-3; Escalon again came back, putting two runs on the board in the fourth to trim the deficit to 8-5.
“They blew it open in the sixth, scoring six and they added a couple more late,” Largent said. “We were able to score three in the sixth.”
The end result, though, was a loss by eight runs although the offense for the Cougars did show a little more life, rapping out nine hits on the day. Franzia was 3-for-3, Valente was 2-for-4. Harris got the start and went five innings; Alex Guevara came on in relief to pitch the last couple of innings.
Saturday, against Linden, it was a 9-7 loss; the second meeting this season of Largent and a former player of his, Gino Franceschetti, who is now the head coach at Linden.
“There were lots of walks from both teams, a lot of errors; it was an ugly game, basically it was whoever made the fewest mistakes would come out the winner,” Largent said.
Escalon took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Harris and Franzia got on base, both hit by pitches, followed by a walk to Teixeira and a walk to Cam Maruyama, driving in a run. McPherrin drove in a run with a ground out and the Cougars took the lead.
Linden scored a run in the third and two in the fourth to lead it 3-2, then they scored six runs in the sixth inning to take a commanding 9-2 lead.
“We rallied a little bit late, got some runners on base,” Largent noted of his squad, including having the tying and winning runs aboard in their final at bat in the bottom of the seventh. Though they pushed across a few runs, they couldn’t quite make up the deficit and left the field with the 9-7 loss.
“Bottom line was we couldn’t throw strikes,” the coach admitted. “We walked nine and hit two batters.”
The parade of pitchers on the day included Teixeira, McPherrin, Brunetti and Orion Hoover.
Of the four, Largent said Hoover was the most effective.
“He hadn’t pitched in a while and there were some positives for him,” said Largent.
The team will close out its season this week, wrapping up play in the Valley Oak League with the Sierra Timberwolves, playing one game at home and one on the road in Manteca.
Just one game was on the schedule for Escalon’s JV baseball team, and they made the most of their Saturday on the diamond. Hosting Linde, the JV Cougars walked off with a 7-2 victory.
“I was a little nervous because we hadn’t played in over a week,” admitted head coach Ken Baptista, noting that the boys did not have the chance to play Ripon Christian this past week in league action, as RC doesn’t have a JV team. “But it was the best game we’ve played all season.”
Linden got an unearned run in the first and added one more later in the game, but Greg Adams was solid on the mound for the JV Cougars, going five innings. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out nine. He also had a couple of hits on the day and drove in a couple of runs.
Logan Anderson was 2-for-3 with two RBI, Jackson Runnels was 2-for-4 and Ryker Peters was 1-for-2.
Jamin Miller pitched two strong innings of relief.
“It was just a nice team win,” Baptista said. “The big blow was a bases loaded hit by Logan Anderson, it was a double down the right field line, it cleared the bases and he got credit for two RBI because they threw it away, and Logan was able to go to third.”
Baptista said he would like to see the team continue to play at a high level, as they wrap up the campaign this week, facing off with Sierra of Manteca at home and on the road.