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JV Cougars Capture Tournament Championship
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Three games over four days added up to three wins and the championship of the Orestimba Easter Tournament for Escalon's JV boys.

The baseball team swept all three opponents and took several places on the All Tournament Team for their outstanding play.

They kicked it off against Pitman on Saturday, April 10.

"We won the coin flip for home team," said coach Steve French. "Then we won the game 17-4."

Pitman scored the first run, in the top of the first inning, but Escalon answered back with four of their own. Pitman closed the gap in the second with a pair of runs to make it a 4-3 contest, but the JV Cougars rebounded with three in the bottom of the inning, increasing the lead to 7-3. A 10-run outburst in the third sealed the win for Escalon, though Pitman tacked on one more run in the fourth.

Escalon had 17 runs on 11 hits, two errors. Pitman had four runs, six hits and three errors.

"We were the beneficiaries of 11 walks," noted French.

The bats were also lively, Scott Sand leading the way with three hits and four RBIs, including two doubles. Jordan Ramirez drove in two runs, Phil Parrish had a double and three RBIs, Lundel Berdion was 2-for-2 with an RBI and Nate Keyser was 1-for-2 with four RBIs, including a double and two walks.

"Steve Gentry went the first four innings, he gave up five hits and had two strikeouts, allowed four runs," said French. "Scott Sand pitched the final inning and gave up just one hit."

After taking Easter Sunday off, the team was back in action on Monday, April 12 and faced off with Central Catholic.

"We were lucky to win the coin flip again," French said, noting that the game was a much tighter contest but his young Cougars prevailed in an 8-7 decision. Escalon had 12 hits and three errors, Central had nine hits and one error.

Parrish went six innings and got credit for the win, scattering eight hits and allowing seven runs, six of them earned. He struck out eight. Geoff Smith came on for the final inning and struck out the first batter, then gave up a single with the Cougars holding the one-run lead.

"It ended on a textbook double play, 6-4-3," French said of the shortstop-to second-to first base double play to end the game.

Travis Hooks was a big hitter in the game for the JV boys, with three hits and two stolen bases.

"He also made a diving stop at second base," French said of the good defense. "And Jordan Ramirez probably saved the game, in the sixth inning with bases loaded and two out, he made a diving catch of a ball in short centerfield, killed a threat."

Along with handling the bulk of the pitching, Parrish was also an offensive standout, going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. Berdion added a 2-for-4 effort, driving in two and the game winner came from Keyser, a solo home run to right field in the sixth inning that gave the Cougars the go-ahead run.

Closing out the three-game tournament on Tuesday, April 13, the Cougars met up with Trans-Valley League rival Hilmar.

"It was a surprising game because Hilmar is a tough team," French noted. "But they had to play 10 innings against Orestimba on Monday and we didn't see their best pitcher."

The Cougars took advantage of that, getting to the Yellowjackets for 13 runs and taking a 13-3 win in a five-inning game.

Escalon scored in every inning, three in the first, three in the second, four in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth. Hilmar was held to a single run in the first, two in the fourth.

"Geoff Smith went all five innings," French said, noting that the game was called after five due to the 10-run rule.

Smith allowed three runs on four hits, walked one and struck out two.

"We had five straight line drives in the first inning," French said of the first inning tallies.

Parrish had a double and an RBI, Keyser had a single and an RBI, while Berdion added a ground out RBI, all in the first inning.

Parrish added a home run and three RBIs in the third inning, Sand was 4-for-4 with three RBIs. Keyser was also in the thick of it again, getting on with a walk in the bottom of the fifth, moving to second on a single and taking third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an overthrow to bring in run number 13, giving the Cougars the 10-run lead and the win.

"We are 11-1 overall with that win," French said. "As champions we got to select some for the All Tournament Team and we had several that were worthy."

Notching those honors were Scott Sand, Phil Parrish and Nate Keyser.

"They all had great tournaments," said French.

Honorable mentions went to Jordan Ramirez, Travis Hooks and Lundel Berdion.

The JV Cougars will be back in action in league play this week, with a make up game at home against Ripon on Wednesday, April 21 and then hosting Hughson on Thursday, April 22.