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Final Week Victories For Varsity Baseball Over Crusaders
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Stepping in to the pitch, senior Tyler Medina gets ready to take a healthy cut at the ball as the Cougars faced off with visiting Modesto Christian on Friday, May 6 in the season finale. It was also the final game in the long career of head coach Greg Largent. Marg Jackson/The Times

It was a satisfying way for the varsity baseball team to end the season; putting a couple of wins on the books to improve to 5-7 in Trans-Valley League play.

They traveled to face Modesto Christian on the road Wednesday, May 4 and then welcomed the Crusaders in to Bob Loureiro Field on Friday afternoon, May 6. It was also a special, yet bittersweet contest, as it was the final game for head coach Greg Largent, who is retiring from both teaching and coaching and the end of the school year.

But, getting two wins in their last two games, made for a happy coaching staff and team.

“Very successful week, we took a 17-1 victory on the road Wednesday,” said Largent. “We took advantage of 11 walks and seven hit batsmen. Orion Hoover was 2-for-3 with four RBI and JP Lial added a double.”

Lial also got hit by a pitch several times and was seemingly on base in every inning.

Hoover got the start on the mound and went the distance. The game was shortened due to the 10-run rule. Hoover pitched five innings, struck out 10 and allowed three hits, throwing just 63 pitches on the afternoon.

“We played good defense, we didn’t commit an error and we just played good ball throughout,” Largent noted.

Friday’s final game – which followed a special ceremony honoring Largent for his accomplishments and highlighting his successful run as the baseball coach – went down as a shutout victory for the home team. They defeated Modesto Christian by a 13-0 final.

“We took advantage in the first inning, they gave us five walks, two hit batters,” Largent explained.

Added to that, he said, was a double by Nico Franzia and a two-run single by Josh Miller, which staked the Cougars to a 9-0 lead after one inning of play.

“We added a single run in the third, Josh Miller doubled and then scored on a Tyler Medina single,” noted the coach. “We added three more in the fourth.”

Keys in that inning were a hit batter, a Justin Fiori single, a Cam Ruiz double and a single by Franzia.

“Offensively, Franzia had four RBI on the day, Josh Miller went 2-for-3,” Largent said of his leading hitters.

Josh Miller got the start on the mound and went three innings, striking out six. Younger brother Jamin Miller came in and worked the fourth inning with Josh Fiori pitching the fifth, allowing one hit and striking out one.

A sweet defensive play saw Justin Fiori, at second base, spear a line drive and then get the ball back to first to double up the runner who had strayed too far from the base when his teammate made contact with the ball.

The final was 13-0 in favor of the Cougars and, once the final out was recorded, Largent received handshakes and more than a few hugs, starting with the shaking of hands down the line with the Modesto Christian players and coaches, followed by the umpires and then his own Escalon coaching crew.

The Crusaders have had a hard road this campaign, unable to get much going offensively and having some defensive struggles as well.

Largent praised the team for playing out the schedule and said there is some talent; it just didn’t come together for them.

“It’s a real good group of coaches and kids over there. They stayed the course and finished a tough season,” Largent said.

It has also been a difficult campaign for the Cougars, but Largent told his team in his final post-game huddle that his only regret was that Friday was the last game of the regular season, not the preseason. He said he feels the team has really come together the past couple of weeks and started to hit their stride and he was proud of them for battling in every contest.

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Senior Alfonzo Gonzalez steals second base during early inning action on Friday against Modesto Christian, easily beating the throw to the bag. It was the final game of the season for the varsity team. Marg Jackson/The Times