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Four Wins Boost Varsity Diamondmen Championship
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Winning all four games they played, the varsity Cougar baseball team came home from the Modesto Christian Tournament with the championship trophy and a 4-0 mark.

Head coach Bob Loureiro said the team played some solid baseball over the three days of the tournament, getting back to the winner's circle with strong pitching and timely hitting.

They hosted Victory Christian on Thursday in the opener of the tournament, winning a 10-0 game that went just five innings.

"The game was called because of the 10-run rule," said Loureiro. "We had 10 runs, nine hits and one error."

Victory Christian had no runs on three hits and one error.

Mike Johansen went four innings on the mound for Escalon, allowing two hits while striking out five and walking one. Grant Goedhart came on in the fifth and allowed one hit, striking out one.

"We had some real solid pitching there," noted Loureiro.

The Cougars also got the bats going early, with three runs in the first, one in the second, four in the third and two in the fifth.

Johansen went 2-for-2 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. Goedhart was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Nick Brown had a single and two RBIs to end the game.

Friday, the boys took on Linden and shut them out, 3-0.

"This was a time limit game, it was getting dark," Loureiro said of the six-inning contest.

Escalon scored single runs in the first, third and fifth innings and rapped out six hits. Linden had four hits and one error, the Cougars had three miscues.

"We threw the ball around but it didn't hurt us at all," noted Loureiro.

Jesse Miguel paced the Friday effort with a 3-for-3 day at the plate, with an RBI and two runs scored.

"Our other hits were pretty scattered," said Loureiro. "K.J. Vandagriff had a sacrifice fly RBI and Peter Krumeich had an RBI single in the third inning."

Zachary Swass did the pitching for the Cougars and kept Linden off balance throughout the game.

"He pitched six innings, faced 19 batters and allowed four hits, he had eight strikeouts and one walk, a masterful job," said Loureiro.

Saturday, the team headed to Modesto for the semifinal contest against Calaveras and came away with a 5-4 victory.

"They left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh with the winning run on second base," Loureiro noted.

Calaveras took a 2-0 lead in the first, Escalon scored a run in the third and four in the sixth. Calaveras came back with a run in the sixth to cut the lead to 5-3, then scored another in the seventh but couldn't get the tying or winning run across.

Miguel was 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored, Vandagriff went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI double.

"His hit put us ahead to stay," Loureiro said of Vandagriff's double.

Peter Krumeich was 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored.

Goedhart pitched the first six innings-plus, giving up four runs on seven hits. He struck out one. Krumeich came on in relief in the seventh and left the runners stranded, striking out one to earn the save.

In the final against Bret Harte, the Cougars were 10-4 victors, cruising to the championship.

It started out a little rocky, the Bullfrogs teeing off on starter Johansen early, pushing four runs across in the first. But that would be it for the game for them, Johansen settling down and then Jeff Ahart coming on in relief.

"They started to hit Johansen, we scored three and then they came back with four," Loureiro said of the first inning fireworks.

Johansen went four innings and faced 19 batters, allowing four runs on six hits. He struck out three and walked one, two of the runs were earned and all of the hits by Bret Harte were singles.

Escalon regained the lead with a three-run second inning, added one more in the third and three in the fourth. The Cougars had 11 hits on the day, Bret Harte had eight and each team had two errors.

Ahart pitched three solid innings of relief, facing 13 batters. He walked one and allowed two hits.

"He did a real good job, a good effort," said Loureiro.

Offensively, the big hit for Escalon in the championship game was the bases loaded double by Vandagriff in the second inning that scored three runs and gave the lead back to the Cougars. Vandagriff also had a sacrifice fly, knocking in four runs during the game.

Johansen was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Krumeich was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, Brian Lynn was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI and Nate Williamson was 1-for-2 with two RBIs.

"A lot of game playing, a real good effort by the kids," Loureiro said of the four-game clean sweep in the tournament. "We saw some good baseball and we beat three Mother Lode League teams that will probably battle for the title in their league.

"We got a trophy and the kids got medals, the weather was beautiful, just some good baseball."

Trans-Valley League action begins for the Cougars with a road game at Hughson on Tuesday, March 16.