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‘Jackets win one and drop one in first two games of tournament
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Hilmar High’s Joel Britton slides into third base during Tuesday’s 7-2 home loss to Mariposa (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

It’s been a bittersweet season for the Hilmar High baseball team, which has seen ups and downs so far this season. However, head coach Jeff Brown is eager to keep the team progressing.

Following an 11-5 win over Ben Holt College Prep Academy on Monday night in the Hilmar Tournament, the Yellowjackets followed up with an error filled contest on Tuesday against Mariposa that ended in a 7-2 loss despite being up heading into the fourth.

“This year we have not played well defensively,” said Brown. “If you look at our ERA and the runs we scored, you would think we would be well beyond a .500 team, but we just can’t seem to put it all together. We score runs, then we give away way too many outs. Our pitching has been better than what our record shows.”

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Hilmar High’s Treven Crowley hit a two-run double and started and pitched a five inning game as the Yellowjackets lost to Mariposa on Tuesday, 7-2 (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

So far after 18 games played this season, Hilmar has outscored its opponents 138-127.

In 116 innings pitched for Hilmar, their ERA is 2.78.

They average just over 7.6 runs per game, but have given up an average of 7.

“We struggled and walked something like nine guys against Mariposa, so we have given away too many runners. Whether it is walks or hits, we can’t seem to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Brown.  

Hilmar has also lost four of its last five games played. During that stretch, opponents have scored a total of 40 runs.

Opponents have scored seven or more runs in four of five.

Hilmar is now 8-10 overall.

“With these non-league games, we are not so concerned with the wins and losses, rather with how well they respond and play during a game setting,” said Brown. “We now we need to take pride in who we are playing no matter if it’s an Easter break game, need to have the will and fire to win. As a team we have not learned that, it is going to take a while to change the culture.”

With four games left in league, Hilmar is 3-5 in Trans-Valley League play. That has them in second to last with Escalon and Modesto Christian ahead by one win.

Ripon and Livingston currently sit in first place in the TVL with a 6-2 record while Hughson sits just behind at 7-3.

Hilmar has beaten each of those three teams once in league play, including a mercy-rule victory over Ripon back on April 9.

The ‘Jackets got a head start to try and one-up those squads by hosting their tournament this week, beginning on Monday with a win. On Tuesday, they almost picked up their second straight win over Mariposa.

In that game, Treven Crowley started on the mound for Hilmar and ended up tossing five innings, allowing just a single earned run.

Crowley also kicked off the scoring in Tuesday’s game after smacking a two-run double in the top of the third inning that made it 2-0.

Crowley went on to pitch five innings before being subbed out.

“We are in it late and obviously struggled and blew it open, the score doesn’t reflect the game. We kind of just gave them those runs, up 2-1 early and that is a good ball club over there (Mariposa),” said Brown. “It is a little frustrating since we preach defense and practice the fundamentals, but we can’t seem to grasp that concept.”

By the fourth inning, Mariposa tied the game at 2-2.

Mariposa notched the go-ahead on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the fifth inning that made it 3-2.

Mariposa tacked on the remaining four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after a pitching change happened from Hilmar.

That followed with multiple balk calls, including wild pitches, errors and passed balls.

Finally, the score read 7-2 heading into the seventh, before Hilmar left another pair of runners left on base to end the game.

“Hopefully we have guys step up, and hopefully the chips fall where they should and see if we can sneak our way into the playoffs. But we are going to have to win all four games left in league to stand a chance,” Brown added. “…so I am hoping there are guys who are hungry and know the opportunity and I hope to go out there with a sense of urgency and play some good baseball.”

Hilmar will next take on Escalon on the road at 4 p.m. Tuesday.