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Cougars Capture Two TVL Baseball Victories
It's the mark of a good team when you don't play your best but still find a way to win.

Escalon's varsity Cougars hit a bit of a 'sophomore slump' early in the season, turning in a couple of - by Cougar standards - sub par performances this week, but still notched two more Trans-Valley League wins.

Wednesday's home game with Ripon went extra innings, the Cougars scoring the winning run in the bottom of the eighth to seal the 100th coaching baseball victory for Greg Largent.

"It was a little nerve-wracking," Largent admitted of the game.

Escalon rapped out 12 hits on the day but also committed three errors. Ripon had eight hits and two errors.

Final score was 7-6.

Escalon got on top first, with a two-out single from Nick Largent driving home Josh Miguel, who had reached on a single and moved up on a passed ball.

Ripon tied it in the second and then took the lead with a three-run third.

"We were down 4-1, then scored two in the third to cut it to 4-3," Largent explained.

RBIs in that inning came from Largent and Charlie McDonald.

Ripon got one more in the fourth to make it 5-3, but the Cougars took the lead in the fifth.

Spencer Franceschetti singled, Leighton Pangilinan doubled to drive him in and then moved up on a ground out by Largent. McDonald walked and Derrick DeFreitas followed with a two-RBI single to give the Cougars a 6-5 edge.

"We held it that way until the seventh," Largent said. "They got a leadoff homer, the furthest ball we've seen hit right handed this season, by Kyle Wagner to make it 6-6."

Escalon couldn't get anything across in the seventh, so the game went to extra innings. A quiet top of the eighth for Ripon put the Cougars in position to win. Tony Gonzales drew a leadoff walk and Miguel attempted to bunt him over but Ripon cut Gonzales down at second, Miguel taking the fielders choice and ending up on first. He stole second and moved to third on a deep fly out to center by Franceschetti. The Cougars then issued consecutive intentional walks to Leighton Pangilinan and Largent, loading the bases and setting up the force at any base.

McDonald made them pay, sending a sharp single through the middle of the infield to bring Miguel home with the winning run.

John Lopez got the start and went four innings, giving up five runs, four earned, while striking out four, issuing three walks and allowing six hits. McDonald also pitched four and got credit for the win, allowing one run on two hits, with five strikeouts and one walk.

Big hitters were Largent, DeFreitas and McDonald, all 2-for-4 with two RBI; Miguel and Franceschetti each went 2-for-5 and Leighton Pangilinan had a double.

"We were fortunate," Largent said. "We got pushed. We didn't really play well, we especially didn't play well mentally, we dug a hole and were very fortunate to get out of it. The kids are very resilient."

Ripon Christian came to town on Friday and the going didn't get any easier, even though it looks that way in an 18-8 Cougars win.

"We found ourselves behind 5-0," Largent said.

Ripon Christian got two in the first and three in the third to take the lead. Escalon scratched back with a four-run third, keyed by Aaron Pangilinan's two-run single.

The teams battled through the first few innings, each side getting runs and Escalon leading 11-8 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Leighton Pangilinan had a three-run shot in the fifth, brother Aaron added an RBI double in that frame. Largent added a two-run single in the fourth.

"We scored seven runs that inning," Largent said. "We got six consecutive hits, the big blows were doubles by Largent and Franceschetti, a pinch hit double by Josh Messersmith and a nice single from Matt Hudson, who happened to bat twice in the inning."

The Cougars had 18 runs on 23 hits with two errors. Ripon Christian had eight runs, eight his and three errors. Aaron Pangilinan started but went just two innings, Justin Martinez went two-and-a third innings and John Lopez went one-and-two-thirds innings. Martinez got the win.

"He got out of a couple of jams," noted Largent.

The team was full of hits, with nearly everyone coming away with a multi-hit game. Largent was 3-for-3 with three RBI and a double; Leighton Pangilinan, 2-for-4 with four RBI; Franceschetti, 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI; Aaron Pangilinan, 4-for-4 with three RBI; Patrick Mulry, 3-for-5 with two RBI and Messersmith, a double and RBI.

"It wasn't pretty," said Largent. "I didn't know if we were going to get out of that one, down 5-0, luckily we got out of it."

So, two more wins on the week, number 100 and number 101. Largent said many of the players did not realize the Ripon game was his 100th win, but all the coaches were aware of the stakes.

"You want to thank the guys you surround yourself with," Largent said. "It's a total team thing, not just one guy."

This week, the Cougars will look to get their game back on track, playing Riverbank in a 'home and home' series on Wednesday and Friday, at Riverbank on Wednesday and at home hosting the Bruins on Friday.