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Varsity Baseball Boys Claim Orestimba Tournament Crown
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Exciting all the way to the end, Escalon's varsity Cougars used a final inning rally to defeat Hilmar and claim the championship of the recent Orestimba Tournament in Newman.

Three games were featured in the tournament, played over the Easter weekend, with the boys defeating their first opponent, Waterford, on Saturday, March 26 by a 6-0 score.

That put them into competition against Central Catholic on Monday, March 28.

"We played to a 5-2 victory and anytime you beat Central Catholic, it's nice," noted coach Greg Largent. "It was really a great game, it was 1-1 going into the sixth inning."

That was when the Cougars erupted for four runs, using a combination of hits and Central Catholic errors to pad the score.

"We got a leadoff single from Anthony Suniga and he scored on a Scott Sand double," Largent said of taking the lead. "Central also made four errors in the inning and that helped us out."

Ross Brayton added an RBI single in the sixth as the Cougars took a 5-1 lead. Central Catholic got one run back in the seventh but that wasn't enough, the Escalon diamondmen taking the win.

Central scored one run in the second inning for an early 1-0 lead, Escalon tied it in the fourth and then went ahead in the sixth.

Pete Krumeich went the distance for Escalon, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out five in an impressive performance.

"Our big hitter on the day was Anthony, he was 3-for-3," said Largent.

The win put Escalon into the championship game against Trans-Valley League rival Hilmar on Tuesday, March 29.

"We scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win it in pretty exciting fashion," Largent said.

Escalon took the lead in the game in the third inning, as Grant Goedhart reached on an error with one out. Phil Parrish then walked and Jared August drove in Goedhart with a ground out. Suniga then came through for his team again, driving in Parrish with a single to put the Cougars up 2-0.

"They scored three in the fourth and took the lead 3-2," Largent said of Hilmar. "Then we went up 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth."

Krumeich singled, Steve Largent reached on a single, both runners moved up on an error. Sand got on base with Krumeich scoring, then Largent scored on a wild pitch.

Not to be outdone, the Yellowjackets broke through for three runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead, Escalon got one run back in the bottom of the frame to trim it to 6-5. August singled and stole second, Ross Brayton drove him in with a ground out.

"We went quietly in the sixth so it was 6-5 Hilmar," Largent explained, noting that the Yellowjackets also seemed poised to strike again in the seventh.

"With two outs in the seventh, they got a single and the next player hit a double and the runner scored all the way from first," said Largent. "I had told my guys in the dugout to be alive, watch things and sure enough, the runner missed third base...we challenged it, the umpire was right on top of it and the runner was called out."

That left the score 6-5 in favor of Hilmar and the key play gave the Cougars some life, pumping up the squad for their final at-bat.

Brian Beeman led off with a single to left field, Parrish moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt. He advanced to third on a wild pitch but then had to hold on a one-hopper back to the pitcher. Suniga - who was named MVP of the tournament - came up and delivered a double to left field, driving in the tying run. Brayton then followed with an RBI single, Suniga coming in from second with the winning run, 7-6.

"It was a very competitive game," Largent said, noting that the Cougars played solidly against a tough Hilmar opponent.

Joey Pinasco pitched the first four innings, Parrish went two-and-a-third and Goedhart, pitching two-thirds of an inning, was the beneficiary of the seventh inning runs, getting the win.

Escalon rapped out nine hits on the day, Suniga was 2-for-4 and Brayton had two RBIs.

"Everybody contributed," said Largent. "We put down sacrifice bunts, we advanced runners, we did all the right things."

Suniga, 8-for-10 in the tournament with several runs batted in, was the MVP and three Cougars were named to the All Tournament Team, Brayton, Parrish and Beeman. The team came home with a large trophy, being displayed at Pizza Plus.

Now, the Cougars will return to league play and will host Hilmar on Wednesday, April 6 and then Ripon Christian on Friday, April 8. Both games begin at 4 p.m.