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Extra Inning Varsity Baseball Battle Goes To Escalon

Going to extra innings on Wednesday, Escalon's varsity baseball team came home from Ripon with a win ... but it wasn't easy.

"We probably played our worst game of the year," head coach Greg Largent admitted. "But better now than two weeks from now."

At Ripon on April 29, the teams were scoreless through three innings, with the visiting Cougars getting on the board in the fourth. The final was an 11-8 win for Escalon in nine innings, keeping their record in league unblemished.

"In the fourth, Charlie McDonald walked, stole second and then there was a strikeout," Largent explained. "Derrick DeFreitas walked and then Patrick Mulry had an RBI single."

That gave Escalon the early 1-0 lead and they increased the spread to 3-0 with two runs in the sixth. Again it was McDonald getting things going with a single, followed by an Aaron Pangilinan single, a bunt single by DeFreitas and a bases loaded walk worked out by Mulry, who got his second RBI of the game. Josh Miguel hit into a fielders choice, which scored another run.

"Ripon got two runs in the sixth on a homer, a walk and two errors," Largent said of the normally tough Cougar defense giving up some runs.

With the one-run lead, the Cougars rallied in the seventh to plate two more.

With one out, Nick Largent singled and pinch runner Spencer Alcantor went in. McDonald was hit by a pitch, Aaron Pangilinan singled, with Alcantor crossing the plate for a 4-2 lead. After a walk to DeFreitas, Mulry got the fifth run in with a ground out.

"We were looking good, up 5-2," Largent said of heading to the bottom of the seventh with just three outs standing between the Cougars and another win. "Then things went crazy."

Starting pitcher John Lopez, who had worked a strong game, was lifted because his pitch count was at 106. He struck out four and walked three. Largent came in and got into trouble, the first Ripon hitter reaching on an error and the next notching a single. After an infield fly ball out, the next hitter doubled to left field and the ball was misplayed, allowing two runs to score.

"Then we got a ground out," Largent explained of looking to close the door at 5-4. "Then there was a line drive to center field and Patrick (Mulry) missed it, it rolled to the wall and it was a tie game."

After that, another walk spelled the end for Largent on the mound, with Justin Martinez coming on in relief. He got the next hitter to ground out, sending the game into extra innings.

In the eighth, the Cougars made more noise, with a leadoff single from Miguel, a strikeout and then a double down the third base line by Leighton Pangilinan moving Miguel to third. An intentional walk to Largent backfired when McDonald was hit by a pitch, bringing in Miguel with the go-ahead run, 9-8. Aaron Pangilinan then singled, driving in brother Leighton and Largent was thrown out at the plate trying to score. DeFreitas was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Mulry walked, driving in run number eight.

With an 8-5 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, Largent felt confident once again.

But an error, a single, a walk and another walk that drove in a run forced another pitching change. Leighton Pangilinan came in and Ripon kept battling, scoring two more runs by way of the fielders' choice.

With two outs and the game again tied, the Indians had the winning run at third.

"Leighton was up 0-2 on the batter and their runner on first took off, he got caught between first and second but then the kid from third took off," Largent said.

The throw to the plate made it to Aaron Pangilinan - who went behind the plate when brother Leighton took the mound - and he put the tag down, getting the third out and sending the game to the ninth.

Miguel was hit by a pitch to start the ninth, Spencer Franceschetti walked and Leighton Pangilinan singled to drive in a run. Largent then notched an RBI ground out and Aaron Pangilinan singled to drive in the insurance run, putting the Cougars up 11-8.

"This time, in the bottom of the ninth, we gave up a walk, then got a ground out and two strikeouts," Largent said of finishing off the game. "Leighton turned out to be the winning pitcher and we were very fortunate to get out of there alive."

Of the eight runs the Indians scored, only three were earned.

"We definitely, the last couple of weeks, have been lucky," Largent said of avoiding a loss despite some rocky outings.

Aaron Pangilinan was 4-for-4 with four singles in the game, Mulry had four RBI, McDonald and DeFreitas each went 2-for-2.

The teams were scheduled to play again on Friday, at Escalon, and got started but went just one inning before the Ripon coach took matters into his own hands.

"He pulled his kids off the field after one inning, said he wasn't going to risk anyone getting injured," Largent said.

Rain on Friday did leave the fields a bit slick but the umpires had no intention of calling the game. Still, the coach and his players walked off, from both the varsity and JV fields.

"It was 2-2 after one," Largent said of the varsity contest.

The teams were scheduled to start the game over, at 0-0, on Monday, May 4 in Escalon after The Times went to press.

The boys close out the regular season with a road game at Ripon Christian on Wednesday, May 6 and are home to host the Knights on Friday, May 8. Playoffs begin with a Tuesday, May 12 game at 4 p.m. at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi against the Mother Lode League number two seed.