ESCALON – Ripon High’s Trans-Valley League opener seemed to get off to a solid start Wednesday.
Indian senior Fotios Jordanoglou led off the contest with a double and eventually scored on a Mike Ysit RBI single to give Ripon an early one-run cushion.
Ripon’s infield committed three errors in the bottom of the second inning, however, which led to five runs plated and a shortened 13-3 loss.
“We struggled early on in the year,” Escalon coach Greg Largent said. “We played all (Division I schools) and the Manteca schools. The dividends are paying off now.”
Escalon, the defending TVL champion and three-time Sac-Joaquin Section Division V winners, improved to 3-0 in league, 4-6-1 overall.
Ripon (0-1 TVL, 7-6 overall) committed five errors and were outhit, 12-8.
“We didn’t do the little things right,” Ripon coach Mark Ortiz said after the loss. “We prepare all week, and I wish I had all the answers.”
Escalon’s Brandon Grogan had an answer.
He put a stamp on the game in the bottom of the sixth after belting a shot off Ripon sophomore Trent Murphy. Grogan’s shot to deep center completed the 10-run mercy rule.
Ripon senior Caleb Rogers pitched a decent five innings, finishing with four strikeouts and four walks but couldn’t overcome the mistakes behind him.
“(Rogers) did an excellent job,” Ortiz added. “We just couldn’t play catch behind him. You can’t succeed against a good team like (Escalon) unless you play catch.”
After Escalon took the 5-1 advantage, Ripon’s defense gave up another run in the fourth and an additional four in the fifth frame. Escalon bounced back from a non-league loss against Stagg of Stockton earlier in the week and continued to be solid against TVL competition.
Dante Machado led off the sixth inning with a single for the Indians and eventually crossed the plate along with senior Brandon Rodriguez on Troy Burth’s two-RBI single.
Escalon captain and senior ace Brent Montgomery set the tone for Escalon. He went six innings and had thorough control over his pitches. He kept his throws low and forced several infield ground ball outs.
Montgomery finished the contest collecting the win along with eight strikeouts and three walks. He also retired the side in three consecutive innings after his offense provided him the early four-run lead.
“(Montgomery) did a great job,” said Largent. “We always know we have a shot with him on the mound. He’s our ace, and it’s nice when we can get some runs early.”
Escalon got runs early on, and later.
Vince Valenzuela handed his Cougars a hefty 10-1 advantage with a two-RBI single in the fourth.
Escalon will be on the road for a second game of a two-game TVL set today at 4 p.m. at Ripon.