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Cougars Cruising In Trans-Valley League Action

Taking convincing wins off the field, Escalon's varsity baseball players continue to do everything well. They defeated Hughson in a home and away series this week, dropping the Huskies 10-0 on Wednesday in Escalon and then grabbing a 12-5 win at Hughson on Thursday.

Weather was a concern this week, but the Wednesday game did go off as scheduled and the varsity Cougars jumped on the visiting Huskies early.

"We got five runs in the first, the Pangilinan brothers went yard, both of them," coach Greg Largent said.

Josh Miguel led off with a single, followed by Spencer Franceschetti getting on when he was hit by a pitch. Leighton Pangilinan followed that with a three-run shot to put the Cougars up 3-0. After a fly out by Nick Largent, Charlie McDonald was hit by a pitch.

"On a hit and run, Aaron Pangilinan homered to the opposite field," Largent said of getting the 5-0 lead.

McDonald, staked to the early lead, had a solid outing on the mound for the Cougars on Wednesday. He went the distance for the win.

"It was his best outing," Largent said. "He allowed one hit, struck out six and walked one."

Escalon made it 8-0 in the second, after one out Miguel reached on an error, Franceschetti worked out a walk and Leighton Pangilinan was walked. With the bases loaded, a patient Nick Largent drew a base on balls, getting credit for the RBI. McDonald then singled to drive in two more, making it 8-0.

"We added one more in the fourth, with one out Nick hit a solo home run," Largent said, as the Cougars displayed their power with a trio of round trippers on the day.

Seventh inning action saw Largent get on with a walk with one out and then lifted for pinch runner Spencer Alcantor. He moved to third on a double by McDonald and then scored the winning run - making it 10-0 - on a bloop single RBI from Aaron Pangilinan.

Escalon had 10 runs on eight hits with no errors. Hughson had no runs, one hit and three errors. Along with the homer, Patrick Mulry contributed a double.

McDonald had a single, double and two RBI; Aaron Pangilinan had a single, homer and three RBI; Leighton Pangilinan had a homer and three RBI; Largent had the solo shot and the bases loaded walk for two RBI; with a single from Miguel and the double from Mulry rounding out the hitting.

On Thursday, the squad made a trip to Hughson and were lucky to get the game in, with rain forcing a shortened contest.

"Hughson did a good job to get their field even playable," Largent pointed out. "We were happy just to get it in."

Perhaps knowing they needed to build a big lead early in case the game was called short - or perhaps just because their offense can be so explosive - the Cougars plated six runs in the first inning on the way to a 12-5 victory.

"After one out, Spencer Franceschetti homered, that was number 18 for the team," Largent said.

It gave Escalon a 1-0 lead but there was much more to come in the inning.

Leighton Pangilinan singled, and after an out, McDonald walked, Aaron Pangilinan followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0. Derrick DeFreitas walked, Mulry singled to drive in one, Travis Cardoza singled to push another run across and Josh Miguel singled to drive in the sixth run of the frame.

"In the second, we sent nine men to the plate and scored three more," Largent said.

After a walk to Leighton Pangilinan, Largent doubled him home. A walk and a fielder's choice loaded the bases and DeFreitas worked out a walk for an RBI. After another out, Cardoza singled to drive home one more, making it 9-0.

"Hughson scored three in the bottom of the second on a three-run homer," Largent said.

That cut the lead to 9-3, but the offense was there to support starting pitcher John Lopez, getting him three more runs in the third.

"Again we sent nine batters to the plate," Largent explained.

Key hits were RBI singles from McDonald, Aaron Pangilinan and Cardoza.

"They (Hughson) scored one in the third on a solo homer to make it 12-4, they got one more in the bottom of the fifth to make it 12-5," said Largent.

It had been raining off and on throughout the game, then started coming down more steadily in the fifth.

"There were really tough conditions for the pitchers, a lot of clay," the coach noted. "Every few pitches they had to clean out their cleats."

The umpire called the game after the fifth, with the field conditions deteriorating and the Cougars pretty much in control.

Lopez went the distance, pitching five innings and giving up five runs on five hits, with seven strikeouts, three walks and one hit batter.

"With a big lead, we just told him to throw strikes," Largent said.

The game was a breakout one offensively for Cardoza, who found his stroke with three hits and five RBI on the day. The Cougars had 12 runs on 12 hits with no errors. Hughson had five runs on five hits with two errors.

"It's nice when you can get early runs like that," Largent added of the big early lead, noting that the players relax a little and play a clean game.

The offense again was solid, with everyone contributing. That has been a luxury for Largent this season so far, with hitters one through nine all capable of doing damage.

Improving to 9-0 in league and 16-0 overall with the wins, the Cougars take a break from Trans-Valley League action this week, with most schools on spring break. They will be busy, though, playing in the tough Windemuth Tournament. They were scheduled to start with Davis on Monday, April 13 and Enochs on Tuesday, April 14, after The Times went to press. They will take on Modesto today, Wednesday, April 15 at 3:30 p.m. and Thursday's opponent is to be determined, based on their record in their bracket of the tournament, being hosted in Modesto.

"We're going to be challenged," Largent said of facing off with larger and higher division schools. "This will be good for us."