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JV Cougar Boys Eyeing League Title Showdown
JV infielders gather at the mound to bump fists with starting pitcher Cole Gilbert during Fridays home game against Hughson, a game that was an 8-2 win for the host Cougars. They look to clinch the league title this week. Marg Jackson/The Times

After getting off to an up and down start to their season, the Escalon JV baseball boys found their groove and have been playing solid ball throughout the Trans-Valley League campaign. They continued that this past week, winning a pair of games against Hughson.

“We got a 3-1 win Wednesday at Hughson,” head coach Ken Baptista said of the May 3 contest. “It was a well-played game on both sides, it was 0-0 going into the fifth.”

Anthony LaRossa got the start and went five strong innings, allowing one run on just three hits, striking out seven. He got the win.

“Carson George came in and pitched two innings and he got the save,” Baptista said.

The offense continued to get the runs needed, with LaRossa again helping his own cause, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

“The big hit was from Cole Gilbert, he had an RBI double,” Baptista said. “Hughson got their one run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly.”

Escalon scored a single run in the fifth and two in the sixth to go up 3-0 before Hughson scored their run in the bottom of the sixth. There was also some final inning drama.

“They had the tying run on second base in the bottom of the seventh and Dylan Ruiz made a great catch in centerfield, he had a few good catches on the day,” Baptista explained of nailing down the victory.

On the home field two days later, the JV Cougars hosted Hughson in a game that had a delayed start due to an umpire being involved in an auto accident – though not seriously hurt – on the way to the game.

For the host squad, it turned out to be an 8-2 win, jumping out with two runs in the first and never looking back.

“Cole Gilbert got the start, he went five-and-two-thirds innings and struck out 10, allowed four hits and one walk, that was his best pitching so far this year,” noted Baptista.

Zack Hearn closed out the game, pitching an inning and a third, striking out three. Hughson scored their two runs in the sixth, but Escalon continued to push runs across the plate in nearly every inning, not letting the visiting Huskies get close enough to threaten.

“Anthony went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, Cole was 2-for-4 with three RBI, Nash Satnat was 2-for-3 with three RBI and Dylan Ruiz was 1-for-3,” Baptista said of the offensive leaders for the day.

Escalon goes in to the final games of the season with a chance to claim the Trans-Valley League championship. Hilmar, their final opponent, lost a Saturday make-up of a rainout game to Hughson, so that leaves Escalon one game ahead with two to play against the Yellowjackets.

“We win league if we win one of the two games,” Baptista said. “The kids are determined.”

The JV boys were scheduled to host Hilmar, with a chance to clinch the crown, on Tuesday, May 9 after The Times went to press. They close out the season with a road game at Hilmar on Wednesday, May 10.

“It would be great to have the varsity and JV both as league champions,” Baptista said.