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Varsity Cougars Claim Share Of TVL Title

A 10-run mercy rule win and a 3-2 squeaker win both went on the books for Escalon this week in varsity baseball. And both were against the same opponent, Modesto Christian.

The host Escalon boys thrashed MC on Wednesday, April 22 after uncharacteristically giving up three first-inning runs. They put plenty of distance between themselves and the visitors as the game wore on, taking the win. It was a much tougher game on the road at MC on Friday, but the Cougars prevailed in the end to keep their perfect season alive.

"We gave up three runs in the first on an error, a stolen base, a single and a two-run homer," coach Greg Largent said. "We did answer with one in the bottom of the first ... I think the coaching staff was more nervous about falling behind than the kids."

Nick Largent drove in the first run with a single to left and the Cougars took the lead with three runs in the second, RBI singles from Josh Miguel and Spencer Franceschetti the big blows.

The host team plated six more in the fourth, with Travis Cardoza notching a three-run double to key the rally. Derrick DeFreitas also ripped a two-RBI single and Charlie McDonald singled to drive in another run.

By that time, the Cougars had slammed the door on Modesto Christian offensively, not allowing the visitors to get much of anything going, playing solid defense behind their pitchers.

In the fifth inning, a couple of walks, a batter hit by a pitch, and a two-RBI single by Cardoza put the game out of reach, getting the Cougars the win at 13-3.

"Charlie started, he only worked two innings and came out with some soreness in his elbow," explained Largent. "Justin Martinez went three innings, he did a great job, allowed one hit, struck out five and walked two."

Escalon had 13 runs on 10 hits with three errors. Modesto Christian had three runs, three hits and one error.

At Modesto Christian on Friday, with the wind blowing in, the Cougar bats were kept in check. They also had runners thrown out at the plate in both the first and second innings, in each case ending the inning. They were able to work out the win, though, getting past the host MC team by a 3-2 final.

In the first inning, after two outs, Leighton Pangilinan doubled and tried to score on Nick Largent's single, but was thrown out at the plate.

In the second, DeFreitas was hit by a pitch, stole second and was thrown out trying to get home on a Cardoza single.

Escalon did score in the third, Miguel getting on with a drag bunt and moving up on a passed ball, taking third on a ground out by Franceschetti. He scored on a sharply hit ball to second by Leighton Pangilinan.

Two more runs scored in the fourth, Aaron Pangilinan battling to foul off about six pitches before reaching on a single. Patrick Mulry singled with one out and both Pangilinan and Mulry moved up on a wild pitch. With two outs, Miguel sent a 2-run double down the left field line.

Modesto Christian countered with a run in the fourth, converting on a leadoff triple and wild pitch for a run. In the seventh, they scored again and threatened to win but the Cougars held on.

A leadoff single was followed by a walk and the Cougars put the bunt defense on. Pitcher Lopez came off the mound to grab the bunt but threw wildly to first, the ball going into right field, allowing one run to score. Aaron Pangilinan charged and bobbled the ball, the MC coach took that chance to keep the base runner moving and Pangilinan recovered to throw him out at the plate for the first out. The trail runner was caught in between bases and catcher Leighton Pangilinan threw to an alert center fielder Patrick Mulry, who had come in to cover second and he and shortstop Franceschetti (covering third base) got the MC player in a rundown, recording the out.

The right field to home to second to third double play was probably one of the most unusual the Cougars have ever turned, not to mention the most fortuitous.

"Instead of runners at second and third with no outs, we had one run in and two outs," Largent said. "Then we got a ground out to Miguel to end it.

"It was almost a playoff-like atmosphere, Modesto Christian is still fighting for that (TVL number) two spot."

Largent said the Cougars got great defensive play in the game from Largent at third, Franceschetti at short and Mulry in center. Lopez also went the distance, allowing two runs on three hits, striking out seven and walking two.

Escalon had three runs and eight hits.

Miguel for 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI; Leighton Pangilinan had a double and an RBI; Largent, 2-for-2, double; Aaron Pangilinan, 1-for-3, Mulry, 1-for-2; Cardoza, 1-for-3.

"We found another way to win," Largent said. "The win did get us at least a share of the title, we just want to keep it going."

The boys will play at Ripon on Wednesday, April 29 and are home to host the Indians on Friday, May 1.

"There's a lot of pressure on them now, with all the hype surrounding every game," Largent said. "Ripon is still chasing us, they have four losses."

Game time on Wednesday is 4 p.m.