After gift-wrapping Escalon a four-run first inning lead, the Manteca Buffaloes scrapped their way into a two-run lead that would not last in a 13-7 loss to the Cougars Tuesday.
Manteca (3-2) did not do itself any favors in the first inning, botching an infield ground ball to help Escalon take a 1-0 lead. The Cougars would take advantage of the error, following it up with a walk and a pair of RBI singles for a 4-0 lead.
Manteca starter Dominic Pisano was able to find some sort of a groove over the game’s next few innings, helping the freshman gain valuable experience in his first varsity start on the pitcher’s mound. His Buffaloes rallied in support immediately, pushing across three runs in their half of the first, thanks to a two-RBI triple from Danny Gouveia.
Manteca was able to respond to each of Escalon’s explosive rallies early, but had no answer when the Cougars turned a one-run 8-7 lead into the final score over their final two at-bats.
“I believe we had five errors and our pitchers were struggling to find the plate early,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “And with a team like that, you cannot do that. We were able to regain the lead and go up by two.
“So I was very pleased with that.”
Escalon plated two runs in the fourth, made possible by a Manteca error to take an 8-6 lead. The Buffaloes would add a run in their half of the fourth on a base hit and run from Michael Matthews, but saw Escalon answer with another two runs in the fifth thanks to a towering homerun captain Patrick Mulry. Escalon’s consistent offense and error-free defense provided the difference in the contest.
“We played some pretty good ‘D’ today,” Escalon head coach Greg Largent said. “And in these elements who knows what’s going to happen. We knew coming in that you can never give up on anything; pop-ups, ground balls, everything is live.
“The kids were ready and I was really proud of the boys.”
Manteca will try and get things squared away when they travel to Hilmar for a Friday night game scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.