The bats went silent and the pitchers struggled to throw strikes.
It was not a recipe for success, as the varsity baseball Cougars went 0-for-3 in their contests this past week. That included a pair of Trans-Valley League losses, falling to the Livingston Wolves, and losing a non-league game in Half Moon Bay.
Tuesday, April 2 the Cougars hosted Livingston and battled in a 4-1 contest.
“We got it in, considering the bad weather,” head coach Greg Largent said of dodging the raindrops. “It was a clean game until the seventh. Carson George got the start and he did a good job of keeping us in the game.”
Livingston jumped in front in the top of the first, as the number three hitter hit a home run, but then George settled in and kept the Wolves at bay for the next several innings.
A one out walk in the top of the sixth ended up crossing the plate. The runner made it to second and, on a play where it looked as though he would be picked off, headed for third and got in the sight line of third baseman Bryce McPherrin, who couldn’t corral the throw, allowing the runner to score.
Escalon got their run in the bottom of the sixth. Brad Hagglund got on board with a walk, McPherrin came up with a single, Hagglund moved to third on a Lucca Dutra fly out and then scored on a passed ball to cut the deficit to 2-1.
But Livingston answered with two runs in the top of the seventh, a double and a couple of errors accounting for the runs. In between, outfielder Devin Roberson notched an assist, cutting down a runner at the plate.
“We only had two hits, wasted a great effort that Carson gave us,” noted Largent.
Thursday at Livingston, the final was 6-5 in favor of the host Wolves. The Cougars found themselves down 2-0 after an inning but came back to lead it 3-2 by scoring three runs in the top of the second.
Ethan Johnson walked and stole a base and, after two outs, Ty Harris walked, Clayton Ferreira notched an RBI single and Hagglund followed with an RBI single. Ferreira then scored on an error to give Escalon the lead. They added two more in the third to go up 5-2, Dutra and Cole Gilbert collecting singles, Johnson getting a bunt base hit to load the bases. After a fly out, Nash Satnat singled to drive in a run and a balk brought in the next run.
In the fourth inning, Gilbert retired the first two batters on four pitches, then completely lost the strike zone.
“We walked five straight and all of a sudden it was 5-4,” said Largent.
Johnson came in to pitch and put out the fire, enticing a ground out to end the inning.
Livingston scratched out single runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth to lead it 6-5 and put Escalon away in the seventh for the win.
“It was a tough one to swallow,” Largent admitted of taking the lead but being unable to hang on.
Ferreira and Gilbert each had two hits in the loss.
Saturday, the team traveled to Half Moon Bay and though it was a 7-2 loss, the game was closer than the final score indicated.
McPherrin started and went four innings and allowed one run. Harris came on in relief and had a tough day, hitting three batters and giving up two singles, accounting for three earned runs.
Also seeing some relief action on the mound were Zach Hearn and Luke Anderson. Three more runs scored for Livingston in the sixth on a single, error and double.
Anderson, coming back from an injury, faced four batters and had one walk, one hit batter, struck out one and allowed a single.
Down 7-0 heading into the top of the seventh, Largent said the team set a goal of not getting shut out.
They achieved that goal, starting the inning with a solo home run from Gilbert to make it 7-1, and scoring the second run with two outs. Noah Rast doubled and Clay Evans drove him in with an RBI single.
“Noah started at third and had a good day, he had two doubles, Devin Roberson also had a hit,” Largent said.
The Cougars will have to put the tough week behind them, added the coach, as they need to get focused on returning to the win column in league play. They were scheduled to play at Modesto Christian on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and host the Crusaders in a 4 p.m. game on Wednesday, April 10.
Non-league play scheduled on Saturday, April 13 will see the varsity boys travel to Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton to face off with Linden in a 7 p.m. contest; adult admission is $10.