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Baseball Boys Top Bret Harte In Varsity Action
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Hosting Bret Harte in Tuesday, March 9 action, the Escalon varsity baseball team took a 9-1 win off the diamond. It was the only game the Cougars got in this week, with a Friday home game scheduled against Stagg canceled by rain.

In the game against the Bullfrogs, Escalon was down by a run after the top of the first, the visitors converting on a leadoff double, a throwing error and a single to push one run across the plate.

"In the bottom of the first we tied it on a leadoff home run by Matt Valencia, an opposite field homer to the left field corner," explained coach Greg Largent.

It stayed 1-1 until the bottom of the fourth, when the home team scored four more. Nick Largent walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a fly out, Derrick DeFreitas singled to drive in a run and Trey Balber reached on a walk.

Valencia followed with a two-run double. James Hill walked and Josh Miguel put down a fielder's choice that scored Valencia to make it 5-1.

"We got four more in the fifth inning," Largent said of capping the scoring.

With one out, Travis Cardoza walked and after another out, Balber walked. Valencia reached on an error that scored Cardoza, Matt Hudson walked and Miguel got on courtesy of a Bret Harte error, which allowed another run to score. Bret Harte added a couple more errors, five total for the game, that allowed Escalon to put more runs on the board.

Escalon had nine runs on five hits with two errors; Bret Harte had one run on four hits with five errors in the game.

"Starting pitcher was Brandon Shaw, he went five innings, struck out five, allowed two hits and walked three," Largent explained. "Justin Martinez came on to pitch two innings, he struck out four."

Defensively, the Cougars got a nice diving catch in left field from Hill in the first inning and the infield combo of Miguel, Spencer Franceschetti and Cardoza turned a nice double play to get the home team out of trouble in the fourth.

"We got a good game out of catcher Trey Balber, he threw out a runner and got one out on back pick at second," the coach said. "He also did a good job in calling the game."

Balber has handled the catching duties at the varsity level this preseason while the Cougars await the return of Aaron Pangilinan, who is coming off a high ankle sprain.

"That will be a big shot in the arm for us offensively and defensively when we get Aaron back," Largent said.

Along with catching, Pangilinan also takes the mound for the Cougars.

Largent said the team has played well but needs to get into a groove, hoping for a solid week of games without a rainout this week. The schedule includes the Trans-Valley League opener at Riverbank on Friday, March 19 and a game at Delta College on Saturday, a noontime non-league game against Linden.

Admission will be charged to the Saturday game, which is being hosted as a fundraiser for the Linden program.