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Baseball Semi-Final Round Game Goes To Cougars
Taking care of business in a Wednesday afternoon game against Marysville, Escalon punched its return ticket to the Section baseball final with an 8-3 win.

"It was a strange day, it was pouring rain when we got there," head coach Greg Largent said of the trip to Zupo Field in Lodi for the 4 p.m. contest.

Once the rain cleared, though, the rest of the late afternoon and early evening was conducive to a game, with the teams getting started a little late but nothing more.

"Marysville was the home team and they took a 1-0 lead on us in the second," explained Largent.

Marysville got a one out double followed by a single to score the run. The runner advanced on a wild pitch but then catcher Trey Balber caught him leading too far off, throwing the back pick to catch the runner.

In Escalon's half of the fourth, the Cougars got a leadoff walk from Patrick Mulry, an RBI double from Aaron Pangilinan, a walk to Matt Valencia and a bunt from Robbie Steves that the pitcher threw away, allowing Pangilinan to score and putting runners on second and third.

"After an out, Brandon Shaw walked so the bases were loaded," said Largent. "James Hill hit a sharp ball to shortstop and Robbie, who was on second, hesitated just enough that they did not turn the double play, Valencia scored and we were up 3-1."

Nursing that lead, the Cougars erupted for five more in the sixth to give themselves some breathing room.

After a single from Steves, Jake Hood went in to pinch run. On a hit and run, Balber sent the ball to where the shortstop should have been, but he had left to cover second base, so the play worked perfectly, putting runners on second and third.

"Brandon then got a sacrifice fly RBI," said Largent, to make it 4-1.

After an out, Josh Miguel singled, Gino Franceschetti walked and Balber reached on an error that allowed Miguel to score for a 5-1 lead.

"Patrick Mulry then came up and after getting down 0-2, he worked the count back to 3-2, fouled off a lot of pitches and then tripled down the line, drove in two runs," said Largent.

With a 7-1 lead, Pangilinan then walked and Valencia ripped an RBI single to bring Mulry home, making it 8-1.

"We played great defense all day, Brandon pitched and he let his defense make the plays behind him," Largent said. "Mulry had four put outs, Steves and Miguel made great plays all day, Gino had a great catch of a pop up foul against the fence and started a 4-6-3 double play in the sixth that got us out of trouble."

Shaw seemed to tire some in the seventh, getting the first out via strikes but then hitting a batter and giving up consecutive singles. With the bases loaded, he hit a batter to drive in a run.

Largent said he made a trip to the mound to settle his pitcher down and Shaw struck out the next hitter.

But after another RBI single, it was a second trip to the mound, the Cougars up 8-3, but with the bases still loaded.

"They had their 2-3-4 hitters coming up," Largent said.

Pitcher Shaw assured him he was fine to finish the game, still with a big lead and just one out to go.

"The next batter lined out to first," Largent said.

Escalon had eight runs on nine hits, no errors and Marysville had three runs on seven hits with three errors. Escalon earned the right to play for the Section crown by taking two games from Marysville in the best two-out-of-three format.

Shaw went the distance, striking out two, walking one and hitting two batters.

Escalon was paced by Mulry, triple, two RBI; Pangilinan, double, RBI; Valencia, 2-for-3 with two RBI; Balber, double; RBIs from Shaw and Hill, singles from Miguel, Franceschetti and Steves.

"I was proud of the kids," said Largent. "It was a tough week, with the finals, graduation, the games were just spread out, but they did a good job."