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Pangilinan Powers Varsity Baseball Cougars Past Hughson

Allowing just one run in the last two games, Escalon's varsity boys won a pair of road contests in recent Trans-Valley League action.

They were at Hughson for a Wednesday, March 18 game and headed to Modesto Christian to take on the Crusaders on Friday, March 20.

At Hughson, it was an 8-0 Escalon win, with senior Leighton Pangilinan providing much of the firepower, ripping three two-run homers on the day.

"Leighton was the story," agreed coach Greg Largent.

The Cougars broke out on top, Josh Miguel putting down a drag bunt for a single on the first pitch of the game. After a fly out, Pangilinan connected for his first two-run homer. Nick Largent followed with a home run of his own, marking the second time in the past two weeks the Cougars have had back-to-back jacks.

It was the same scenario in the third inning, Miguel getting on with a single, a pop up out and then Pangilinan's second two-run blast. That made it 5-0 and with John Lopez masterful on the mound, the Cougars were in cruise control.

Charlie McDonald got aboard on a walk in the fifth inning with two outs, stole second, moved to third on an error and scored on an Aaron Pangilinan RBI single for a 6-0 lead. In the sixth, Travis Cardoza walked and Tony Gonzales went in as a pinch runner. With two outs, Pangilinan homered again, his third two-run shot of the day to make it 8-0.

"John Lopez pitched his best game as a Cougar," Largent said. "He went six innings, allowed just three hits, stuck out 10 and gave up two walks."

McDonald came on in the seventh, allowing just one hit as the Cougars took the win. Escalon had eight runs, 10 hits and no errors and Hughson had no runs, four hits and two errors.

"It was one of our cleanest games of the season," Largent said.

Miguel was 2-for-3, Leighton Pangilinan 3-for-3 with six RBI; Aaron Pangilinan 1-for-4 with an RBI, Largent had a home run for the RBI.

At Modesto Christian on Friday, the boys took a 4-1 win off the field and again got on the board in the first inning.

Miguel led off with a single to right field, moved to second on a Spencer Franceschetti sacrifice bunt and then Leighton Pangilinan got on with a fielders choice. Miguel was then picked off second, Largent doubled and McDonald followed with a single to drive in a run. Largent also attempted to score but was ruled out at the plate on a call the Cougars disputed.

"We thought he was safe, the crowd thought he was safe," coach Largent noted. "The umpire didn't and he's the only one that counts."

Modesto Christian tied the game in the bottom of the first with a leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt and a single, but that was the only run they would score all day.

"It stayed that way until the sixth," Largent said of the 1-1 tie. "We got out of three different jams with the bases loaded, two of them with no outs."

Aaron Pangilinan was on the mound and Largent said though he was living dangerously with the bases loaded situations, was like the proverbial cat with nine lives.

"We had two double plays, which ended the first and second innings," Largent said. "And we played great defense all day, Charlie at third, Franceschetti at short and Josh at second. In the fifth, Nick threw a runner out at third from left field."

In the Cougar half of the sixth, Largent was hit by a pitch ad advanced to second on a botched pick off attempt. McDonald then reached on an error, with Largent getting to third. Aaron Pangilinan then singled to drive in a run, Derrick DeFreitas had a ground out RBI and another run scored on a fielder's choice to make it a 4-1 Cougar lead.

"In their half of the sixth, Aaron started to run out of gas," Largent said of his starting pitcher. "They got a single and a walk, then I brought in Justin Martinez, our specialist lefty, and he did a whale of a job. He got a couple of quick outs, including a big strikeout, and he gets the save. He put them down 1-2-3 in the seventh."

Pangilinan went five-plus innings, allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts. Escalon had four runs with seven hits. Modesto Christian had two errors and Escalon had just one.

Largent was 2-for-2 with a double, while singles came from Miguel, McDonald, Aaron Pangilinan, Patrick Mulry and Franceschetti.

"It was a tough week," Largent said of playing two quality teams on the road. "But we got through that okay and now we have three straight at home."

That stretch opens on Wednesday, March 25 when the Cougars host Ripon, with Largent going for win number 100. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

The boys will also host Ripon Christian on Friday, March 27 and then are home for Riverbank on Wednesday, April 1.