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Mistakes, late Escalon rally end Manteca’s undefeated start
Manteca-Escalon softball
Manteca right fielder Grace Rosas barely missed on a dive for a fly ball in right field. - photo by Wayne Thallander

ESCALON — After a one-run win over previously undefeated Oakdale on Wednesday, Escalon handed the first loss to a Valley Oak League team two games in a row as the host Cougars used an eight-run sixth inning to come back and defeat Manteca 12-7 in non-league softball action on Friday.

“I think we kind of ran out of gas,” Buffaloes coach Josh Farris said. “We had some errors compound on each other, both mental and physical errors, and that leads to big innings. They have way too good of a lineup to give them extra outs, and we gave them way too many extra outs today and they took advantage of it.”

After that eight-run sixth put Escalon (7-4-1) ahead 12-5, Manteca (8-1) got two back in the seventh. Ariana Lowery (two runs) walked to lead off the frame and Baylee Willenbrink (3 for 4, RBI, run) singled. A single by Nayellys Torres (3 for 4, RBI) loaded the bases and Jessica Almeida singled in Lowery and Willenbrink for the game’s final runs.

“I was proud of the offense,” Farris said. “We hit one of the best pitchers in the area pretty well. And we competed all the way to the end. I’m proud we didn’t just roll over that last inning.”

With the bases loaded in the Manteca third, Torres singled in Mohrgen Kissee (2 for 3, run) to put the Buffaloes ahead 1-0. Elon James came up next and blasted it over the right-field fence to score Lowery, Willenbrink and Torres for a grand-slam home run and a 5-0 lead.

“That was my second grand slam of the week,” James said. “This one was opposite field, the other one was not.

“It was just coming and I saw it outside so I took it out there.”

Faye Hernandez had the big hit of the 17-hit Cougars parade with a three-run home run in the six inning. Lucy Allbaugh (4 for 5), Macie Vickers (3 for 4, two RBI, two doubles), Tulsa Carnes (3 for 4, two RBI, double), Emily Vickers (3 for 5, four RBI, double, triple) and Brooke Davis (2 for 4) and rounded out the Escalon attack.

On Wednesday, the Cougars scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and one in the eighth to walk off with an extra-inning 7-6 win over Oakdale and against the Buffaloes, Escalon trailed 5-4 going into the sixth.

“The girls never give up,” Cougars coach Jeff Borden said. “They know how to win. They had their pitcher’s back today and they did what they had to do.”

Manteca is off until its VOL opener in Modesto against Central Catholic Monday, March 28 at 3:45 p.m.