Four games over four days kept Cougar baseball players busy during Spring Break, taking part in the Windemuth Tournament hosted in Modesto.
“Our record didn’t turn out that good, we went 1-2-1 but we played much better baseball,” said head coach Greg Largent.
The varsity Cougars started the tournament against Turlock Christian on April 18 and fell by a 2-0 final.
“They had a very good pitcher, a junior lefty that’s very polished,” Largent explained. “We managed just one hit on the day, an infield single from Colton Page in the second inning.”
That was the only offense the Cougars had and, noted Largent, they wasted a “great pitching effort” from Josh Miller.
“He gave up single runs in the first and second, struck out five, it was just a great effort on his part,” Largent said of the senior starter.
Tuesday, April 19 the Cougars took on Patterson and battled in a 4-3 contest, falling one run short against the Tigers.
“We scored two in the third,” Largent said.
Nate Krieger, brought up from the JV team for the tournament, got on base with a single and Nico Franzia belted a two out, two-run homer to give Escalon the 2-0 lead.
Krieger was 2-for-3 on the day in his appearance with the varsity.
Patterson tied the game in the bottom of the third, capitalizing on a couple of singles, a walk and a passed ball to make it 2-2.
“We added a single run in the fourth, our leadoff batter Page was hit by a pitch, we got a nice sacrifice bunt from Orion Hoover and Page then scored on a fielder’s choice,” Largent said.
Patterson answered back to tie it in the bottom of fourth and then took the lead with one run in the fifth, going up 4-3.
In the inning, Franzia did throw a runner out at the plate but the trail runner on that play later stole third and eventually came home, turning out to be the margin of victory for the Tigers.
“We went quietly in the sixth and seventh,” said Largent. “Again, we got great pitching, from Parker Saunders and Orion Hoover. Our pitching all week was solid, the kids did a heck of a job; our starters gave us a chance to win.”
Hoover started the third game of the week, April 20 against Beyer, and got some run support, as Escalon scored four runs in the bottom of the first.
“It stayed that way until the third, they scored three in the third and three in the fourth, so we fell behind 6-4,” Largent said.
Then, Beyer ran into some pitching problems and the Cougars were able to take advantage, putting together a six-run bottom of the sixth to regain the lead, with six walks and two hit batters fueling the rally.
Beyer did not score in the seventh, with Escalon taking the 10-6 win.
“We had a great game from Dom Brunetti, he was 2-for-2, Tyler Medina also had a hit and two RBI,” noted Largent. “Orion Hoover went three-and-a-third innings and was relieved by Josh Fiori, he actually got the win.”
Thursday, it was a rain-shortened game to close out the tournament, taking on Ripon Christian.
The game ended in a 2-2 tie with the Knights.
Escalon went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first, with a leadoff walk to Krieger, who stole a base and then scored on a Franzia double.
The Cougars missed an opportunity for more, leaving the bases loaded, and saw Ripon Christian take a 2-1 lead in the third on a single, error and a couple more singles.
“We were able to tie it in the fourth, after an out Brunetti reached on an error and Austin Ewing singled,” Largent said. “After the second out, Krieger walked. Josh Miller, who went in to run for Ewing, was picked off second base but stayed in the pickle long enough for the run to score. Brunetti, on third, was pinch run for by Alfonzo Gonzalez.”
Miller getting in the rundown and allowing the run to score turned out to be key; that made it 2-2 as the teams headed to the fifth.
Ripon Christian scored three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-2 lead; Escalon was at bat in the bottom of the fifth when the game was called due to weather.
“It started pouring,” explained Largent. “Infielders were slipping, they decided it just wasn’t worth it to risk injuries; the bottom of the frame was never finished so it reverted back to the score in the fourth.”
That left the teams with the 2-2 tie to finish the tournament.
Jamin Miller went four innings on the mound and freshman lefty Ian Burk came in for the fifth, getting his first taste of varsity action.
“We saw some good work from him, he struck out two and got a fly out, but none of that will show up,” Largent said of the inning never being completed.
Still, the coach said, it was a good outing for the young Burk, adding to a solid week for the Cougars on the mound.
“I can’t say enough about the pitching all week, we just didn’t hit like we should have,” Largent said of the 1-2-1 showing. “But all our games were competitive and that’s all you can ask.”
Back in school after break, the Cougars are on their Trans-Valley League bye week but have non-league contests scheduled with Central Valley of Ceres. Both the varsity and JV teams were to play on the road Tuesday, April 26 and then host Central Valley on Thursday, April 28.
On Saturday, it will be an 11 a.m. start for games at home for the JV and varsity against Linden. It will also be Senior Day for the varsity squad.
EHS alum Gino Franceschetti is head coach for the Linden varsity team and Largent said the Lions won the Windemuth Tournament this past week.
“Gino might be the only one to win that tournament as both a player and a coach,” Largent said.