By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ripon drops nine-inning heartbreaker to undefeated Escalon
Indians fall a game back of MC for playoff berth
Ripon sophomore Zach Evans rounds third base after slugging a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth inning of Wednesday’s big Trans Valley League contest against visiting Escalon. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
RIPON — Zach Evans plated Ripon’s first run with a leadoff homer in the sixth.

And he, along with many others in attendance, thought he scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth to stun undefeated Escalon during an anticipated Trans Valley League contest.

With two outs and Evans representing the deciding score at third base, teammate Jared Macedo got caught in a pickle between the first- and second-base bags to catch Escalon pitcher Leighton Pangilinan’s attention.

Evans bolted for home without hesitation and appeared to slide under the tag of catcher Aaron Pangilinan but was called out.

Escalon, with momentum teetering back on its side, scored three in the top half of the ninth, and Leighton Pangilinan struck out Ripon’s final two batters to escape with a wild 11-8 victory.

Coupled with Modesto Christian’s 3-2 victory over Ripon Christian Wednesday, the heartbreaker now has Ripon (7-5, 9-10 overall) trailing the Crusaders by a game with three to go in the race for the second and final available Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff berth.

“It’s a shame to have it come down to a play where obviously the guy was safe at home,” Ripon coach Mark Whelan said. “When (Escalon’s) head coach (Greg Largent) tells me he was safe and that the game was over, I mean there’s no question we won the game.”

Evans, who went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, said he was tagged on the chest while his legs had already crossed the plate.

“It’s not my call,” Evans said. “If I thought I was there it doesn’t matter. It’s not my decision, just a bummer deal.”

It was the second time this season that Ripon had a comeback fall short in extra innings against Escalon (12-0, 23-0), which clinched the conference’s championship outright Wednesday.

The Indians twice charged back from three-run deficits. Evans’ sophomore classmate Hayden Koch keyed their seventh-inning rally with a two-run double to left, and Jared Macedo drove in the equalizer with his own two-bagger two deep center.

Untimely errors kept Escalon from wrapping up the win sooner, as it gave up an unearned run in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. And wild pitching was the bug-a-boo for Ripon, as four hurlers combined to hit seven batters and walk nine more.

“To be honest, we haven’t played this poorly in a long time,” Largent said. “Sometimes that happens and we were due for one. We were very fortunate to come out with the ‘W.’

“It just seemed like neither team wanted to take care of business.  Hats off to Ripon, they played tough all day long and we found a way to win somehow. It wasn’t pretty by any means.”

Aaron Pangalinan roped singles in each of his final four at-bats to finish 4 for 6 with two RBIs to lead Escalon. Charlie McDonald (four runs) and Derrick DeFreitas were both 2 for 2, and each got hit by beanballs twice. Leighton Pangilinan was 2 for 4 with a double and two runs.

Kyle Wagner and Colby Gomes each plated a pair for Ripon. Camden Dowhower and Francisco Gustin both went 2 for 6.

Ripon still has a shot to leapfrog Modesto Christian in the standings but has to wrap up its season series with Escalon on the road Friday before capping the regular season with a two-game set against last-place Riverbank next week.

Modesto Christian figures to have the tougher finish with Ripon Christian Friday and two games with defending league champion Hughson left on its schedule.

“When you take one of the best teams in Northern California to two extra-inning games, that’s something to be proud of,” Whelan said. “But we’re still in this thing, we’re not done yet. We just have to take care of our business.”

Modesto Christian 3, Ripon Christian 2
In Ripon, the host Knights (2-10, 6-15) had a chance to help their crosstown rivals out but gave up the winning run in the top of the eighth inning. Modesto Christian (8-4, 13-9) avoided the upset defeat thanks to Nathan O’Leary’s two-out single.

The game may have been decided in the top of the first, however, when Modesto Christian capitalized on an error to break the scoreless tie.

Losing pitcher Clayton Prins was outstanding in his seven-plus innings of work and, aside from the one error, got a boost from his defense. He finished with two strikeouts and gave up just a pair of hits.

Josh Welch and Arie Den Dulk plated RC’s runs in similar fashion, as they both were awarded second base on a balk and later scored after stealing third on throwing errors.

Robert Hall was 2 for 2 to lead the offense, and Dylan Van Vliet added a double.