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Cougars Bow Out Of Playoffs In Semifinal Round
It came down to one game ... the season resting on Monday's battle with the Western Athletic Conference champion Central Catholic squad ... and Central ended the baseball season for Escalon with an 8-2 victory at Zupo Field in Lodi.

After beating Bret Harte in the opening round, Escalon moved on to the semifinals and the best two-out-of-three series against Central. They lost the first, 14-9, on Saturday, May 17 but made it a game, battling back from an early deficit.

That was followed by another game on Monday, May 19 and, facing elimination, the Cougars couldn't get past Central.

"We were the home team and we found ourselves behind, they scored two in the top of the first," explained head coach Greg Largent. "We gave up a walk, then picked the runner off at first. But then they had a single, a double off the wall, a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch and it was 2-0."

Jimmy Zepeda got the start but, having a reoccurrence of some arm problems that sidelined him for a couple of weeks at midseason, was lifted after getting through the first inning.

"He couldn't go and that kind of deflated us," Largent said of losing their number one starter. "We're better defensively when he throws."

Coming on in long relief was Charlie McDonald, who went five innings.

Escalon had a chance to get some runs on the board in the bottom of the second, getting a single from Aaron Pangilinan with one out. Thomas Ray reached on an error and Jake Winkler walked to load the bases.

Nick Aprile then lined out to short right field, the ball staying up just long enough for the fielder to reach it, and Spencer Franceschetti grounded out to end the inning.

"We came away with no runs," Largent said of failing to cash in on the golden opportunity.

Central made them regret it quickly, scoring two more in the top of the third.

A leadoff triple, a single, a stolen base and an error were keys in the inning.

Escalon got a leadoff double by McDonald in the third, down 4-0, and Leighton Pangilinan singled, putting runners at first and third to start the inning.

A strikeout, a pop up and an unassisted put out by the first baseman left the runners stranded and Escalon again failing to put any runs on the board.

The teams then played through a couple of quiet innings before Central tacked on four more runs in the sixth, with an error, two singles and a three-run homer figuring heavily in to the mix.