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TVL Title, 20 Win Season For JV Cougars
JV boys
Coaches and players for the Escalon JV baseball team join in for a celebratory photo after winning their 20th game of the season in the finale against Hilmar on May 11. The JV team was undefeated league champions and has won 40 games over the past two seasons. Photo Contributed

Coming out on top in the last two Trans-Valley League games of the season, Escalon’s JV baseball boys completed their second consecutive 20-win campaign.

Head coach Ken Baptista said the team defeated Hilmar on the road Tuesday and came back to win at home Wednesday, ending the season with a 20-2 record.

Following up on a 20-7 season last year, that gave the sophomore boys on the team a two-year 40-9 mark and was the first time in several years, said Baptista, that the team had back-to-back 20 win seasons.

They started out with a road win, 11-1, at Hilmar on Tuesday.

“Steven Grossi went five innings, gave up just one hit and struck out nine, their run was unearned,” said Baptista. “Offensively, we just continued hitting.”

Max Nicholas was 2-for-3 with two runs batted in; Estephan Salcedo was 2-for-2 with two RBIs. Cole Gilbert and Nick DeWeerd each had a hit and two runs batted in as well.

“It was a good team win,” Baptista noted of getting contributions from multiple players.

Wednesday, the JV Cougars were on the home field and this time shut out the visiting Yellowjackets by a 15-0 final, going just five innings.

“Winning pitcher was Paul Ayala, he had 10 strikeouts and allowed just one hit,” said Baptista. “Cole Gilbert had an opposite field home run into the wind, he was 3-for-3 on the night with five RBIs.”

Grossi had an outstanding day at the plate as well, 2-for-2 with four RBIs.

When the final out was recorded in the top of the fifth, the JV Cougars enjoyed a dogpile, celebrating the season, before taking time for team photos.

“It was a great ending to an outstanding season,” Baptista said.

Undefeated in the Trans-Valley League at 10-0, the JV Cougars were league champions. A handful of players were selected to join the varsity for the playoff run including Max Nicholas, Steven Grossi, Lucca Dutra, Cole Gilbert and Nash Satnat.

“Hopefully they get to go on a deep playoff run,” Baptista said.

As far as the JV season and team, the coach said the players can be proud of what they accomplished and he also said the squad was truly a pleasure to lead this season.

“If these guys can stick together, continue to grow, I see good things for them the next couple of years at the varsity level,” he explained. “They just enjoy the game, they like being around each other and they love playing the game.

“They made it an awesome year.”