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Baseball's JV Cougars Pick Up Two More Wins

Two more games meant two more victories for the Escalon JV baseball squad when they swept Hughson April 8 and April 9 in a home and away series.

At home on April 8, the Cougars were down 2-0 when they came to bat in the bottom of the first. Gino Franceschetti led things off when he walked, stole second base, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored on a fielder's choice.

Matt Valencia got on base when he was hit by a pitch, and Brandon Shaw then walked. Trey Balber doubled, scoring Valencia, and Shaw scored on a passed ball. Balber later crossed the plate on a fielder's choice, and Escalon took a 4-2 lead.

Hughson came back in the third inning, scoring three runs to post a 5-4 lead. But the never say die Cougars struck back the following inning, scoring two runs behind a Matt Roberson double and base hits by Trevor Doom and Tyler Vitale to take a 6-5 lead.

"The game was pretty close for a while," observed JV coach Travis Bartelink.

"Until we got going in the fifth inning," he added.

Balber set the tone in the fifth with a home run that cleared the JV right field fence at Escalon High.

"It was a legitimate shot," said Bartelink.

Roberson had another RBI double, and a Vitale sacrifice fly gave the Cougars a commanding 9-5 lead.

Escalon finished off their scoring in the sixth, when Valencia doubled and Shaw had a single, giving the Cougars runner on the corners. Balber had another shot, this one a triple that scored both base runners.

"He was only a single away from the cycle," observed Bartelink.

Balber finished 3-for-4 with three RBI.

Roberson had a sac fly to score Balber, completing the scoring for the Escalon hitting machine. Roberson finished 2-for-2, also with three runs batted in.

"They were hitting the ball," Bartelink said. "If there was a fence all the way around our field, Roberson and Balber would have had multi home run games."

Logan Stewart started for the Cougars, coming out in the third inning for Shaw.

"The umpire was squeezing Logan a bit," Bartelink said. "This was his first start for us, usually he comes in to relieve. He did fine, but there were things that didn't go our way."

Shaw came in with the bases loaded, and was able to get out of the inning. He shut down Hughson the remainder of the game.

"We can always count on Brandon," said Bartelink.

In the rematch the following day at Hughson, the Cougars left no doubt about who is the top team in the Trans-Valley League. Behind a nine-strikeout performance by Valencia, Escalon beat the Huskies 9-1.

"We put him on the mound and we know we're going to have a good game," said Bartelink.

The Cougars scored four runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to put the game on ice.

Shaw was 3-4 with four RBI, and Valencia was 2-for-4 at the plate with a double. Ian Fitzgerald was 1-for-2 and scored a run.

"The kids came out slow, but we put a bunch of runs up," Bartelink said, noting the score had been tied at one until Escalon blew the game open.

The Cougars play in a tournament at Johansen High this week, where they will have the opportunity to play large school competition.

"It will be good to finish league after the experience we gain playing some of these teams," Bartelink said.