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Cougars Close Out First Round With Twin Wins
Keeping up the momentum that propelled them to a spring break championship in the Orestimba Easter Tournament, Escalon's varsity baseball boys won a pair of contests to close out the first round of Trans-Valley League play.

They were winners at home Tuesday against Modesto Christian and on the road Friday night at Ripon, going 3-2 through the first five league games.

Hosting Modesto Christian on Tuesday, April 1, the varsity squad came away with a 3-2 win. They gave up an unearned run in the top of the first, but answered back in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Charlie McDonald singled and moved to third on a single by Leighton Pangilinan, with Jacob Caton following with a walk. McDonald scored on a wild pitch, which moved both other runners up; Pangilinan also scored on a wild pitch to give the host Cougars a 2-1 lead.

"Modesto Christian tied it up in the top of the third with a run," said Escalon head coach Greg Largent. "They had a single, a stolen base and another single."

That made it 2-2, with the Cougars taking the lead for good with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Tony Gonzales was hit by a pitch, advanced on a fielders choice by Spencer Franceschetti and scored on an RBI double from McDonald.

"John Lopez got the start, he went six innings and gave up seven hits, three strikeouts and one walk," Largent said. "He was the winning pitcher, Charlie McDonald pitched one inning for the save, he had one strikeout."

Escalon had three runs on just three hits, with two errors. Modesto Christian had two runs on seven hits with two errors.

"We played pretty good defense to get out of some messes," Largent explained. "Lopez also did a good job, keeping us in the game."

Friday night, the varsity boys headed to Ripon for a 7 p.m. contest at Mistlin Park, under the lights, in a game rescheduled from Thursday due to several players participating in the Every 15 Minutes program at Escalon High on Thursday and Friday.

Though the Cougars took the win, it was an ugly contest overall, with both teams committing multiple errors.

But even the miscues couldn't shake starting pitcher McDonald, who cut down 18 Ripon hitters via the strikeout.

"That's unheard of," Largent said of the strike zone mastery. "Fourteen, 15 is the biggest total I've ever been around, you might hear of 18 in softball but not in baseball. It was something people will talk about for a while."

Escalon took a 9-7 win off the field and the teams combined for double digit errors as well as runs.