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Varsity Bats Come Alive In League Baseball Battles
Scoring 33 runs in two league games, the Escalon varsity baseball boys got on track at the right time, taking down Riverbank in a pair of contests to start the Trans-Valley League campaign strong.

"They say 'hitting is contagious' and it spread through the team like wildfire," head coach Greg Largent said of the successful week.

They went to Riverbank on Tuesday, March 29 and were 22-3 winners there in five innings of play.

"We got seven runs in the first but the big inning was the second," Largent explained. "We got nine runs, all with two outs, including eight straight hits and the big blow was a Josh Miguel two-run homer."

Escalon had 22 runs on 21 hits with no errors in the game. Riverbank had three runs - all in their final at-bat in the fifth inning - on four hits with four errors.

Escalon did not score in the third, but had two runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth.

Aaron Pangilinan got the start and went three innings, striking out eight, allowing two hits and one walk. Derek Velting came on in relief to see his first action on the mound and allowed two hits and two walks, but also got high fives from his teammates for his offense, stroking a double to drive in a pair.

"The guys were really behind him," said Largent. "His two-run double in the fifth was pretty special."

Miguel had the two-run homer, Pangilinan was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer of his own in the fourth inning. Other big hitters included Gino Franceschetti, 4-for-5; Patrick Mulry, 2-for-2 with three runs batted in; Matt Valencia, 2-for-3 with three RBI; Trey Balber, 2-for-2 with two RBI; and James Hill, 2-for-3.

Thursday on the home field, it was a closer game but Escalon still prevailed, 11-1. Riverbank took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first but that was the only run they would get, and Escalon responded by scoring five in the bottom of the frame.

"That came on three walks, three hit batters and one hit," Largent said.

The host Cougars went on to add a single run in both the second and fifth innings, two each in the third and fourth to win it in the bottom of the fifth on the 10-run rule.

In the second, Mulry reached on a double and scored on a Valencia RBI single. In the third, Hill reached on an error and scored on Miguel's RBI triple, with Miguel scoring on a Franceschetti ground out.

Consecutive walks in the fourth with two outs were followed by a single from Hill to load the bases. Miguel was hit by a pitch to drive in one, Franceschetti walked to drive in the other.

"In the fifth inning, Brandon Shaw singled and Ben Sipes walked," Largent said. "Josh Vandagriff came up as a pinch hitter and got the RBI single to end the game."

Valencia went the first four innings on the mound, striking out eight, while Shaw pitched the fifth and got three outs with just 11 pitches in a strong relief appearance.

Escalon had 11 runs on seven hits, Riverbank had six hits to go along with their one run.

Saturday, the squad had a non-league game with Sonora, getting in a little extra work with the sunshine, and shut out the visiting Wildcats, 15-0. Escalon had 15 hits, Sonora had two hits and each team had one error.

Tyler Vitale got the start and pitched five strong innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out six.

Big hitters on the day were Miguel, 2-for-3 with an RBI; Franceschetti, 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI; Mulry, 3-for-4, RBI; Valencia, 2-for-2, triple, five RBI including a bases loaded triple in the second; Hill, 2-for-2, double, RBI; and Balber, a triple and three RBI.

Escalon went just five innings in each game this week because of their big run production, posting 48 runs in 15 innings in play.

"We're hitting the ball at the right time and some of the bench guys got live at bats this week, that's important," Largent said. "We also got great pitching, I'm proud of the guys ... it was a nice week."

The Cougars were slated to play Ripon at home on Tuesday, April 5 after The Time went to press and will be at Ripon on Thursday, April 7 at 4 p.m.