RIPON — Ripon battled Escalon valiantly, but the Indians did not have an answer for three Cougars insurance runs in the seventh inning as visiting Escalon won 9-5 in Trans-Valley League baseball action.
Things took a turn for the worse for Ripon (1-1 TVL, 8-3-2 overall) when with two out in the third inning starting pitcher Jack Mayer was knocked from the game. Colton Lowney (2 for 3, RBI) belted an infield single off of Mayer’s elbow. It was the only hit Mayer gave up.
“This is the biggest deficit we have had against them since I have been here,” Ripon coach Jon Manrique said. “Before today the biggest run difference we had was three runs. But it was tough. They had Justice (Naraghi) throwing – he’s a great pitcher for them. We had Mayer and then Mayer took one right off the elbow.
“I thought our team rallied really well and Luke (Petker), who was projected to be our starter on Friday, had to jump right in. I know the score doesn’t show it but I thought he did well, especially for a guy who doesn’t know he’s going to pitch coming right off the bench.”
Not only did Petker (2 for 3, run) have to pitch with no warning, he normally does not bat but had to on Wednesday. With no score in the third inning and two out, Petker snuck a bad-hop single over the Escalon first baseman followed with infield singles by Carson Henry and Eriq Jaquez to load the bases.
Jacob Gahm then hit the fourth infield single in a row, plating Mayer with Henry scoring on an error for a 2-0 Indians lead.
The Cougars answered with four in the fourth and two in the fifth to go ahead 6-2. In the sixth Donny Cooksey (2 for 3, RBI) singled in Gahm and John Eicher hit in Colby Bacon followed up by Michael Winters plating Cooksey on a sacrifice fly to center to narrow the Escalon lead to 6-5.
“It was just Escalon-Ripon,” Escalon coach Greg Largent said. “That’s what it was. The last few years it’s been like this – we don’t take each other lightly – you don’t sit on leads and when you have chances to get a run you take them.
“But give them credit. Losing Jack (Mayer) was a big blow. He’s a heck of a competitor and you hate to see that. Petker came in and did a heck of a job but those insurance runs in the seventh were pretty big.”
Out of the 22 total hits, 13 were either infield hits, seeing-eye singles or Texas-Leaguers.
“That’s what it has become of our game with them,” Manrique said. “It’s about doing the smallest things. In these kinds of games, it will always be about doing the little things and today, Escalon just did a few more.”
Largent concurred with Manrique.
“There were a lot of seeing-eye singles on both sides,” Largent said. “We were lucky to come over here and get one and we are not going to take them lightly on Friday. Hopefully we can get it in with the weather.”