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Pair Of League Games In Win Column For Varsity Baseball Cougars

Playing the first 'home and home' series of the Trans-Valley League campaign, the Escalon varsity Cougars took both contests from the Riverbank Bruins in baseball action this week.

The Cougars were away at Riverbank on Wednesday, April 1 and got an 11-9 win.

"It was ugly, but it was a 'W'," said coach Greg Largent.

The game looked like it would be an easy one for the Cougars, who started out with four runs in the first, added three in the second and three more in the third. That gave them a seemingly comfortable 10-1 lead, with the Bruins scratching a run across in the bottom of the first.

"We were cruising," Largent said. "But then a couple of errors, a pitching change, a couple of hits, a couple of walks, they scored four in the fifth, two earned, and cut the deficit in half, 10-5."

Charlie McDonald got the start for the Cougars and went four innings. Jon Whitesitt came on in relief and was victimized by some errors, giving up the four runs before Nick Largent spelled him.

Escalon added a single run in the sixth and Riverbank got a couple of hits to plate two more in the bottom of the sixth to make it 11-7.

"We weren't able to score in the top of the seventh, Riverbank got two more in the bottom half," Largent explained.

The leadoff runner for the host Bruins reached on an error, Escalon's fifth of the game, and then scored on a two-run blast by the next hitter, making it an 11-9 contest.

"A walk brought the tying run to the plate," Largent said.

Nick Largent was then lifted for reliever Justin Martinez.

"He got two quick strikeouts," Largent said of his pitcher. "Then the runner at first was picked off by (catcher) Leighton Pangilinan, it was a back pick, he had gotten too far off the base."

That ended the game, with Escalon taking the win.

Big hits for Escalon came from Derrick DeFreitas, a run-scoring double in the first; Leighton Pangilinan, a two-RBI single in the second; Largent, a three-run double in the third.

"In the third with two outs, Josh Miguel walked, Spencer Franceschetti singled and they walked Leighton intentionally to load the bases," said Largent. "Nick followed with the three-run double to right center field, we made them pay for the walk."

Riverbank also helped the Cougars with some errors including a dropped fly ball in centerfield in the first inning that allowed three runs to cross the plate.

"After what looked to be an easy one, a bloop hit, an error, a walk and we were scrambling," Largent said of battling through the tough fifth inning. "Charlie still gets credit for the win."

Martinez picked up the save.

On Friday, the Cougars hosted Riverbank and got back on track with a 15-0 thrashing of the visitors in a game that went just five innings.

"We got eight in the first, six in the second and one in the third," Largent explained. "The story of the day was Leighton, he got the start on the mound and did a great job, he went four innings and struck out 10, they only put three balls in play the entire day."

Martinez went the final inning and struck out two.

"Offensively, Derrick DeFreitas had a breakthrough game, he's been hitting the ball hard and this time joined the homer club, he had a solo shot in the third," Largent said.

DeFreitas was 3-for-3 on the day with three RBI and Josh Messersmith added a two-run single, Leighton Pangilinan was 2-for-2, Josh Miguel was 2-for-3 with two RBI.

The wins put Escalon at 7-0 in league play, 14-0 overall. They hold first place honors right now over their closest competition, Hughson (4-2) and Modesto Christian (5-2.)

This week, they take on Hughson.

"It's a big week with Hughson, we hope to get at least a split so we'll hold the tiebreaker," Largent said. "It's important for us, they only take two teams from the TVL to playoffs this year."

The Cougars will host Hughson on Wednesday, April 8 at 4 p.m. and the Cougars travel to Hughson for a Thursday game, April 9 at 4 p.m.

"It was a much better feeling on Friday," Largent admitted of looking more like the Cougars of old in the second win over Riverbank. "It's a grind, the kids are getting tired ... but there's no doubt they'll get up for the Hughson games."