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Cougars Top Bret Harte, Fall To Central
Roughing up Bret Harte in action Tuesday night in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs, Escalon's varsity baseball boys put a 12-3 win on the board.

They were then set down by Central Catholic in the opening round of the best two-out-of-three game semifinal series on Saturday, 14-9.

The opener at Zupo Field in Lodi saw the Cougars taking the field as the visitors, going in as the number three seed from the Trans-Valley League, facing off with the top seeded Mother Lode League team Bret Harte.

They struck early, pushing a run across in the first inning.

"Charlie McDonald singled and, with two outs, Jacob Caton hit a triple," said head coach Greg Largent, bringing McDonald in with the first run of the game.

The teams played evenly through the next couple innings, but Escalon then exploded for seven runs in the fourth. Caton doubled and Derrick DeFreitas bunted to move him over, ending up with a base hit. Nick Largent singled to drive in a run, followed by Travis Cardoza with a two-RBI single. After a Bret Harte pitching change, Jake Winkler walked and, after an out, Spencer Franceschetti singled to drive in a run, McDonald singled to drive in a pair, then he scored on an error to cap the scoring in the inning. That gave Escalon an 8-0 lead.

Four more runs in the top of the sixth made it 12-0, Nick Aprile got on with a walk, Leighton Pangilinan reached on an error and Caton singled. DeFreitas was hit by a pitch to drive in a run, Largent singled to bring in another, with a walk and RBI for Cardoza and the final run scored on an error. All the scoring came with two outs in the inning.

Bret Harte scratched back for a few runs in their half of the sixth.

"They scored three," Largent said. "Jimmy (Zepeda) started and did a whale of a job for us, he went five-and-a-third innings."

Finally tiring, Zepeda was pulled after allowing the three runs and getting one out in the sixth. Largent came on and finished off that inning, with John Lopez going the final inning, striking out one.

Escalon had 12 runs on 11 hits with two errors; Bret Harte had three runs on seven hits with three errors. Zepeda gave up six hits, walked one and struck out 11 in a solid performance for the Cougars.

After the opening round win, the team had a few days to practice before meeting up with Central Catholic and they kicked off their best of three series on a strong note, scoring three runs in their first at bat against Central.

"We started off pretty good," agreed Largent.

Franceschetti walked, McDonald walked and after one out, Caton singled to drive in a run. Largent then hit a potential double play ball but the shortstop bobbled it and threw the ball away, with one run scoring there. DeFreitas was then hit by a pitch, Thomas Ray hit into an RBI ground out for the third run of the game.

Lopez got the start for Escalon and ran into trouble in the second inning, when Central rallied for five runs. A single, a walk, a pair of doubles and a two-run homer did the damage. Central added four more in the third, going up 9-3, this time a three-run homer in the mix.