Capital Christian edges Escalon for D5 title

Cougars denied fourth straight Division 5 championship

bvanderbeek@modbee.comMay 28, 2013 

    alternate textBrian VanderBeek
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Sports, including preps, colleges and the Modesto Nuts
    Bio: Brian VanderBeek joined The Bee in 1996 after previously working at The Home News-Tribune and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, the (Dover) Delaware State News and the Hanford Sentinel. He is a graduate of Ripon High, Modesto Junior College and holds a degree in journalism from Fresno State.
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— Escalon High lost a game of give and take on Monday.

Give the Cougars a couple feet on three well-hit balls and take away a shaky first-inning start and Escalon would be celebrating its fourth straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 baseball title.

Instead, all the breaks went to the team making the plays, and Capital Christian grabbed the blue banner with a 3-1 victory at Zupo Field.

"They gobbled everything out there and did a really good job defensively," said Escalon coach Greg Largent. "We had a hiccup in the first and took a while to get settled in, and that was the difference."

Capital Christian (25-5-1) scored all its runs in the first inning as Escalon starter Brent Montgomery needed a few pitches to find his touch.

A hit batsman, a single, two walks, a wild pitch and a two-run single by Tyler Jennings gave Capital Christian the three-spot, forcing Escalon to play catch-up the rest of the day.

"A couple walks, a couple mistakes and after the first inning I got settled in," Montgomery said. "When you give up three in the first it's difficult to come back."

Montgomery remained on the mound for Escalon, finishing with 10 strikeouts while allowing only two more hits the rest of the way,

But he was matched by Capital Christian's Ben Ritchey, who also threw a complete game with four strikeouts. Ritchey, however, was backed by three amazing defensive plays.

In the second, Louis Estrada's ground ball deep into the hole was backhanded by shortstop Mauricio Dubon, who performed a mid-air spin and throw, Jeter-style, to get the out.

In the sixth, Nathan Chunn's bid for a hit to left center was snared on a full-out head-long dive by center fielder Terrence Brenby, and Estrada's bullet down the third-base line to lead off the seventh watch grabbed at the upper limit of Tyler Schimpf's vertical leap.

"Estrada in the seventh hit the hardest ball of the day and the guy went up and got it," Largent said.

Escalon (21-10-1) push across a run in the fifth when Phillip Kimble walked with two outs, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a slide after pinch-hitter Vince Valenzuela delivered a single to right.

But that was all for the Cougars, who were retired in order in all but three innings.

"We overachieved this season and got hot and made some adjustments," Largent said. "We just found a way and I couldn't be more proud. This was a group that just refused to stop playing."

• DIVISION 6, at Lodi — Mariposa had a hard time catching up to the fastball of Austin Ragsdale.

The Bradshaw Christian senior overpowered the Grizzlies hitters, striking out 11 and surrendering only five hits as the Pride defeated Mariposa 10-2 to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 6 championship on Monday at Tony Zupo Field.

The win avenged a 4-3 loss to Mariposa in the championship game last season.

"We don't see too many kids who throw like that," said Grizzlies coach Bruce Vegely, whose team finished the season with a 22-4 record. "Ripon Christian had a gun on him in the playoffs and clocked him at 86 to 89 mph. We don't see that and it's hard to emulate that in practice."

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