Two “great pitching performances” carried the Escalon varsity Cougars baseball team to a pair of Trans-Valley League wins this week.
The squad twice defeated Hilmar, first by a 10-0 final on April 24 at home, then taking a 14-0 win on the road at Hilmar on Friday, April 26.
“Both games were one-hitters,” coach Greg Largent said of the victories.
Ben Hood got the win in game one, going five innings and striking out six, walking one and giving up one hit.
Escalon did their damage in the third inning, with four runs crossing the plate on a bases loaded sacrifice fly from Robbie Steves, a two-run double by Hood and another run scoring on an error.
In the fourth, three more runs came in, with Garrett Denczek ripping a two-run triple and then coming in himself on a passed ball. He knocked in Brandon Grogan, who had doubled, and Tad Dimas, who reached on an infield single.
“In the fifth inning, Vince Valenzuela singled and after an out, Dimas singled and then Phillip Kimble had an RBI single,” Largent explained.
A two-run single by Steves would follow to deliver the knockout blow, a 10-0 win.
“We had 10 runs on 12 hits and no errors, we played clean,” Largent said.
Hilmar had one hit and three errors.
On Friday, the Cougars got multi-hit games from Kimble, Steves, Nathan Chunn and Hood with Brent Montgomery getting the start on the mound and taking a no-hitter into the fifth.
“A drag bunt broke up the no hitter,” Largent said.
The next two batters also reached base –each hit by a pitch – to load the bases with no outs but, after a trip to the mound by his coach, Montgomery settled in and got a strikeout and a 6-4-3 double play ball to end the threat and the game.
Notching RBIs for Escalon on the day were Chunn (3), Luis Estrada on a double, Valenzuela, Kimble (2), Denczek, Grogan, Steves, Owen Pangilinan and Kevin Gregorio.
Montgomery had six strikeouts, two walks and two hit batters to go along with the one hit. Escalon had 14 hits and committed one error, with Hilmar committing four errors on the day.
When the final out was recorded in the fifth on the double play, the Cougars were able to dogpile on the mound, in Hilmar territory, to celebrate clinching the TVL title.
“We had great pitching this week, the bats were alive, we had 26 hits for the week, they had two,” Largent noted.
The Cougars head to Modesto Christian today, Wednesday, May 1 and host the Crusaders in the TVL finale on Friday.
A home game on Wednesday went into the win column, 8-3, for the JV diamondmen.
“It was close early, it was 3-2 until the sixth,” said coach Travis Bartelink.
Dustin Lawrence was 2-for-2 with a pair of runs batted in and Robbie Rickman was 2-for-3 on the day, while Wesley Dick went 1-for-2 with a two-RBI double. Frankie Warren and Moises Murga both pitched well in the contest.
“That made it five wins in a row for us and it clinched the TVL title,” said Bartelink.
Friday at Hilmar, the JV boys walked off with an 11-1 win in six innings. It was 1-1 headed to the top of the fourth when the squad exploded.
“We put up eight runs in that fourth inning,” Bartelink explained. “They had a couple of errors, we had seven hits that inning and 15 hits in the game.”
Murga had an RBI triple, Adam Roberson had a two-run homer, with a 2-for-3 day with two RBIs from Christian Fernandez. Brian Warren also had a hit and Rickman and Lawrence added hits as well.
The win put the JV Cougars at 8-0, undefeated in league for the season.
They will play Saturday at home against Enochs at 11 a.m.
“This is five consecutive years that we’ve be blessed with that,” Bartelink said of the league title. “I’ve had some really good teams.”