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Title Run For Cougars In Baseball's Hampson Tournament
Escalon's play in the summer baseball league was good enough to nail down an overall 12-3 record and most recently, a title in the annual Lee Hampson Tournament.

"We played great and won the thing," said coach Greg Largent, noting the squad played six games over four days and won five out of the six to come home as champions. "It has just been a whirlwind since Thursday."

Escalon stated out with a June 21 contest against Modesto, a game they lost by a 9-6 final.

"We got down 7-0 but battled back with a five run fifth that included two RBIs each from Brent Montgomery with a double and Brandon Grogan with a single," Largent said.

Tad Dimas added an RBI single in the sixth, but the summer Cougars couldn't quite make up the early deficit.

They bounced back nicely on Friday in a doubleheader, defeating Gregori in five innings, 11-1, and then taking down Merced 4-3 in an extra inning contest.

Against Gregori, an eight-run uprising in the third provided all the cushion that starter Brent Montgomery would need, as he went all five innings on the mound and got the win.

He helped his own cause tremendously, going 3-for-3 at the plate. Dimas was 3-for-3, Ben Hood was 2-for-3, while Raymond Guevara rapped out two doubles, Phillip Kimble had a triple and Luis Estrada was 2-for-2.

Against Merced, Hood doubled and Montgomery doubled to drive him in for the first run, with the Cougars then falling behind 3-1 as Merced scored two in the fourth.

Escalon tied it up in the seventh with doubles by Montgomery and Guevara, Alex Loureiro reaching on an error and then with a squeeze play on, the ball glanced off the catcher's glove, allowing the tying run to score.

After holding Merced in the top of the eighth, Escalon pulled out the win in the bottom of the frame. Kimble led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Vince Valenzuela and moved to third on a ground out by Hood.

"Monty (Brent Montgomery) then drilled an RBI single to win it," Largent said. "Hood went all eight innings on the mound, he was a bulldog."

Capping pool play with an 8-2 win over Riverbank on Saturday, Nerland got the win and struck out seven. Key hits were doubles from Valenzuela and two-run singles from Nerland and Estrada, with Robbie Steves collecting an RBI, Montgomery and Guevara notching singles.

"We won our pool so that put us in the final four," Largent said.

The Cougars faced off with Manteca while Enochs and Lincoln met in the other semifinal.

Against Manteca, Escalon got a run in the first but gave up three in the second. They took the lead back later with an eight-run inning with a combination of hits and walks. Manteca battled back to score five but the Cougars were able to hold on for the wild 9-8 win.

"Montgomery pitched his way out a jam late," said Largent.

Lincoln defeated Enochs in the other semifinal so that matched Escalon with Lincoln in the championship game on Sunday morning.

"We took a 3-2 win," said Largent. "They scored two in the bottom of the first and we trimmed it to 2-1 in the third."

Nerland had the RBI single.

Two runs in the fourth put the Cougars in the lead to stay. Nathan Chunn was the winning pitcher and had seven strikeouts, while Garrett Denczek handled the catching duties and "called a great game," said Largent, including throwing a runner out.

"The kids did a great job," Largent said. "Especially after losing the first game, to come back and win it."

The 'A' team has concluded its summer campaign, going 12-3 overall.

The 'B' team, primarily underclassmen, is hosting the Bob Loureiro Summer Tournament this week, with action continuing today (June 27) and Thursday, June 28.

Pool play includes Linden, Ripon Christian, Modesto and Enochs in one pool, Oakdale, Beyer, Gregori and host Escalon in the other. Escalon will face Beyer today at 4 p.m., with admission $4 for adults and $2 for students.

This is the ninth annual Bob Loureiro Summer Tournament.