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First Victory Of Season For Varsity Baseball Cougars
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Escalon varsity player Colton Page dives back into the bag as the pickoff throw comes from the pitcher during Thursday afternoon action against Bret Hate. Page got back safely and the Cougars posted an 11-1 win, their first of the season. Marg Jackson/The Times

Though the week ended with a split of contests for the varsity baseball Cougars, it was a successful one nonetheless.

“I am happy with the way we played and I will take that any time,” said varsity head coach Greg Largent.

The Cougars opened the week with a loss to Downey but then got their first win of the season in a contest against Bret Harte.

“Tuesday we lost at home to Downey, it was a 3-0 loss but the storyline was that we committed no errors,” Largent said of staying in the game. “We had a good pitching performance from Mark Valente, he went six-and-a-third innings, allowed eight hits, struck out five, walked one and hit two batters.”

Josh Miller came on in relief and allowed one hit in two-thirds of an inning.

“We had some opportunities, we just couldn’t cash in,” Largent added of being shut out by the visiting Knights.

Jamin Miller had two hits, Colton Page had a double and singles came from Nico Franzia, Josh Miller and Mark Valente.

Thursday, the boys were back on the home diamond hosting Bret Harte.

“We finally got in the win column,” Largent said.

It was an 11-1 win in five innings, the Cougars getting the win via the 10-run rule.

Parker Saunders got the start and went the full five innings, said Largent, striking out 10 while allowing just two hits in a stellar outing.

“Their one run was unearned,” the coach added.

Escalon got the scoring started in the bottom of the third. Tyler Medina had a double and went to third on a throwing error, then came home on a Colton Page RBI single. After two outs, the Cougars got three more runs across. Cam Ruiz singled, Josh Miller reached on an error, Nico Franzia had an RBI single and Mark Valente rapped a two-run double for a 4-0 lead.

Bret Harte got their run in the top of the fourth to make it 4-1 but Escalon answered again in the bottom of the inning.

Medina worked a one-out walk, Page singled and Josh Fiore put down a sacrifice bunt. Ruiz then came through with a two-run single to make it 6-1.

Escalon closed the door on the 11-1 victory in the bottom of the fifth with five more runs. Franzia had a single in the inning but the majority of the runs came with seven walks issued by Bret Harte.

Largent said they did switch pitchers but the Bret Harte hurlers lost the strike zone, allowing the free passes that led to the winning run. Franzia had a single and a walk in the inning, drawing the walk that brought home the run to end the game.

Franzia, Ruiz and Page all had two hits to lead the team.

This week, the Cougars will meet Ripon to open up Trans-Valley League play. They will be at Mistlin Park in Ripon on March 16 – there is an admission fee – and then host Ripon in Escalon on Friday, March 18. Saturday, weather permitting, they are scheduled to play a team from Nampa, Idaho making a swing through California.



Like their older counterparts, the JV Cougars were defeated by Downey but got a win over Bret Harte.

“We were undefeated going in to the Downey game and they 10-runned us,” coach Ken Baptista said. “They won it 14-0.”

Baptista said Downey did get several hits and also took advantage of several Cougar errors in the game.

The script got flipped for the Bret Harte game, as Escalon took a 12-0 win.

“We threw a combined no-hitter,” Baptista said, with Jackson Runnells and Ian Burk keeping the Bret Harte hitters off balance throughout the contest.

They also had to pitch to some of their own teammates. A flu bug that saw some of the JV players go up to the varsity level for the game meant the Bret Harte JV squad had just seven players. Escalon rotated four of their players to make sure the Bullfrogs had nine players on the field.

For the Cougars, Ryan Murphy went 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBI to pace the effort. Gregg Adams was 1-for-2 with two RBI and Burk was 1-for-1 with a run driven in.

Runnells went three innings, striking out nine and walking one. Burk pitched two innings, striking out two and walking two.

The JV team plays Ripon to open TVL action this week, on the road Wednesday and at home Friday.

“They beat us twice last year so we’re looking for some payback,” Baptista said.

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Leading off first base after getting aboard with one of his three hits on the afternoon, Ryan Murphy also drove in three runs in a 12-0 JV Cougar win over Bret Harte on Thursday, March 10. Marg Jackson/The Times