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No-Hitter, Come From Behind Win Comprise Cougar Week
After an overpowering win at Ripon on Tuesday, the varsity Cougars had to dig deep and find a way to win facing off with the same Indians on Thursday. Falling behind early on April 5, the home team rallied for three runs in their final at-bat to win the game and stay on top of the Trans-Valley League standings.

Starting the week on the road on April 3, the big story was Matt Valencia, who tossed a no-hitter and was one walk away from a perfect game. The Cougars added plenty of offensive support in taking a 10-0 win in six innings.

The Cougars got four runs in the second, with RBI singles from Trey Balber and Nathan Chunn. In the sixth inning, Gino Franceschetti set the table with a leadoff double and, after two outs, the squad ripped three straight doubles to put some more runs on the board. Notching the doubles were Balber, Chunn and Matt Roberson. More runs scored on a walk and an error and then Philip Kimble had a double to knock in the 10th run of the day for Escalon.

Ripon was unable to get anything going off Valencia and the game went just six innings due to the 10-run rule.

"Matt had 72 pitches, no hits, 11 strikeouts and allowed one walk in the bottom of the third," said varsity head coach Greg Largent.

Escalon had 10 runs on eight hits and no errors. Ripon had no runs, no hits and two errors.

Fighting the flu bug a bit, the Cougars were at home on Thursday to host Ripon and found themselves in an unusual position, down by three runs before they got anything going.

Jake Hood and Tad Dimas both saw action in centerfield this week, filling in for the ill Patrick Mulry and Valencia was also pressed in to emergency service in the outfield on Thursday.

"It was a crazy game, we hit the ball hard at times but right at people," Largent noted.

Ripon gave the Cougars a good battle and a scare with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth.

"Brent Montgomery started and did a good job, we just didn't play well behind him, made a lot of mental mistakes," explained Largent. "In the fifth, Chunn came in with the bases loaded and no outs, he allowed a sacrifice fly and then we got out of the inning on a wild double play."

That limited the damage and Escalon got one run back in the sixth, capitalizing on a walk, a single, a passed ball and an RBI ground out to cut into the lead.

Trailing 3-1 with just three outs to go, the Cougars were in danger of dropping their first game of the season.

"I told the kids scratch, claw, bite your way back in, don't give up," said Largent. "The dugout did a good job of keeping everyone focused and in the game."

Trey Balber got things started with a single and Chunn had a great at-bat, working out a walk. Matt Robertson was at the plate when a pitch was blocked but Balber took off for third, making it safely and Chunn followed, stealing second. Dimas then went in to pinch run for Chunn.

"They brought the infield in, which, up by two, I wouldn't have done," Largent said. "Roberson hit a sharp grounder to second and it went through the fielder's legs for a two-run error, both guys scored and it was 3-3."

Pinch hitter Alec Nerland went up to bunt Roberson over and, after two quick foul balls, laid down a perfect bunt on the next pitch and reached first base safely on the wild throw. Josh Miguel then lifted a fly ball to right center, but the outfielder dropped it. Nerland, who had to hold up on the fly ball, was out at second. Miguel was safe at first on a fielders choice and Roberson was on third, with Miguel then stealing second. Putting on the squeeze play, batter Phillip Kimble fouled the first pitch off.

"We did it again on the next pitch and he put down the perfect bunt, Roberson scored and the celebration started," Largent said. "It wasn't pretty but we found a way. It was a good wake up call."

Escalon had four runs on six hits with two errors. Ripon had three runs on five hits and two errors.

"I challenged the kids, to not go down without a fight and they came through," Largent said. "We did it by committee, Kimble, Nerland, Chunn, the juniors coming through; it was a true test of the team this week. Good teams battle back and find a way."

Montgomery went four innings Thursday with six strikeouts, five hits, two walks and two earned runs allowed, Chunn went three innings to get the win.

The boys are playing at the Windemuth Tournament this week, slated to meet Gregori at Enochs today, Wednesday, at 3:30 p.m. and then a Thursday game to be decided by their outcome in pool play from games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Trans-Valley League play resumes next week, with the Cougars traveling to Orestimba for a game on Tuesday, April 17.