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Split Of Opening Week Games For Varsity Baseball
A big win over Sonora and a tough loss to Sierra summed up the week for Escalon's varsity baseball team.

The Cougars gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about in the Thursday, March 3 contest, as they toppled Sonora by a 13-5 decision.

"We were able to get the lead in the first," said head coach Greg Largent.

The first three batters reached on walks - Josh Miguel, Gino Franceschetti and Patrick Mulry. Miguel was caught stealing in between, but then Matt Valencia got the Cougars on the board, jacking a three-run homer. The starting pitcher, Valencia gave himself some breathing room early.

Sonora pushed one run across the plate in the second on an error.

Escalon added three more runs in the second, with a two out double by James Hill, an RBI single from Miguel, an RBI double from Franceschetti, who then scored on a wild pitch.

Leading 6-1, Escalon saw Sonora get one run in the fifth and then they mounted a comeback, scoring three in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-5.

"Matt went four innings, we brought Tyler Vitale in and he struggled a little bit," Largent said. "We brought in Aaron Pangilinan with the bases loaded (sixth inning) and he was able to get two ground outs."

That ended the Sonora comeback, and Escalon put the game away with a seven-run bottom of the sixth with RBIs in the frame from Pangilinan, Valencia, Robbie Steves and singles from Trey Balber, Matt Roberson and Hill also adding to the scoring.

Pangilinan worked the seventh inning as well, and after a leadoff single, that runner was cut down by Balber, throwing him out on a steal attempt.

Escalon had 13 runs on 10 hits, Sonora had five runs on 10 hits. Each team committed three errors.

On the road at Sierra for a Friday afternoon game, Escalon again took the lead but this time couldn't hold it.

"We lost a heartbreaker, 4-3," admitted Largent.

In the second inning, Roberson led off with a single, with a perfect bunt by Steves advancing him all the way to third when the third baseman fielded the ball but no one covered that base. Balber drove him in with a ground out.

Brandon Shaw got the start and ran into trouble in the bottom of the second inning. After notching a strikeout, he then walked two, hit a batter and walked another to drive in a run. Vitale came on in relief and hit the first batter he faced, the home team going up 2-1.

Third inning action saw the Cougars add a pair to regain the lead.

Miguel singled and stole second and third, Franceschetti walked and stole second. Both scored on a single by Pangilinan, with Franceschetti sliding across the plate with the go ahead run, eluding the tag of the catcher.

"It was back and forth, both teams played great," Largent said of the game.

Escalon had the lead in the bottom of the seventh and with two on, two out, a misplayed fly ball allowed both runs to score, giving Sierra the win, 4-3, when it looked like the Cougars would take the game.

Largent said the ball is one that gets caught routinely, it was just misjudged.

"Better now than later," he said, noting that it was a good, competitive game.

The Cougars had three runs on seven hits with two errors, Sierra had four runs on four hits with one error.

Miguel was 3-for-3 on the day, Pangilinan was 2-for-3 with two RBI, Roberson and Steves notched singles and there were two intentional walks given, one to Miguel and one to Valencia, after he just missed a home run in the first inning, lining out to the wall deep in the outfield.

The team takes their 'spring training' road trip this weekend, leaving Thursday after school for a weekend in Aptos. They will play Aptos on Friday, then Pacific Grove on Saturday.

"It's a good team bonding experience," said Largent.