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JV Boys Win Two Of Three In Preseason
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With just a handful of games in preseason play, the JV Cougar baseball team won two and lost one.

Coach Steve French is back for another season and said his team has both "experienced the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" in the early going.

"We had a lot of people try out, we had about 26 people come out and it's always a difficult task to choose," the coach noted of whittling down the roster. "We have 18 players."

In action against Modesto Christian on Thursday, March 4, the young Cougars defeated the Crusaders by an 8-2 final.

"They scored one in the fifth and one in the sixth," French said. "We scored two in the first, one in the third, one in the fourth and four in the sixth."

Escalon had eight runs on 10 hits and no errors. Modesto Christian had just two hits and made two errors.

"It was a good start, especially for our young pitching staff," said French. "That's what will make or break us, the development of our young pitchers."

Jared August went four innings and struck out eight, giving up just one hit. Steve Gentry pitched one inning and allowed a run, walking two and striking out two. Phil Parrish pitched the final two innings, allowing a run on one hit. He struck out six.

Travis Hooks had three hits and two stolen bases, along with three runs scored, to lead the offense. He scored in the first inning, driven in by Nate Keyser. Other offensive leaders were Jordan Ramirez, 2-for-3 with an RBI single and a bunt single, Andrew Beam was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Brian French doubled to drive in a run in his only plate appearance of the game.

"It was nice to get the win," said the coach.

On Tuesday, March 9, the boys ran into a tough Linden squad, losing a 21-1 contest.

"It was just a total meltdown," French admitted. "That was the agony. We had no umpire initially but everyone got to play and that was a positive. We made good contact against their pitcher but didn't score."

The young Cougars also had five errors that led to seven unearned runs.

"Our pitchers walked 14 guys," added French. "It was the most one-sided loss I've ever been a part of here."

Offensively, Ramirez singled and scored a run, Justin Chandley singled and Steve Largent doubled and drove in a run. Parrish, August, Beam and Scott Sand shared the pitching duties.

Back on the field Saturday, the boys rebounded with a strong effort against Summerville, winning 13-3. The game went just five innings.

Gentry started on the mound and, after a rocky start, settled down to pitch three.

"With two outs in the first, there was a hit batter, a double, a single and we got in an early hole," French said.

A two-run homer in the second inning from Parrish started the Cougar comeback, however, and the JV squad also got a three-run home run from Lundel Berdion in the third.

"We had a number of guys break out with hits," said French. "This was a better game for us."

August pitched the final two innings and the JV boys now look ahead to league play, opening on the road Tuesday, March 16 for Trans-Valley League action. They will be at home Thursday, March 18 to host Livingston.