By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Varsity Diamondmen Capture Manteca Tournament Championship
Rain may have washed out some of the scheduled games in the Manteca Tournament, but the weather couldn't put a damper on the Cougars, as the varsity boys baseball team played to a trio of wins and captured the championship of the tournament.

They beat Weston Ranch, Summerville and host school Manteca to take the crown.

The early part of the card was rained out and it ended up being a six-team tournament, with the first game for Escalon being played on their home field on Thursday, March 5. Due to the coin flip, the Cougars were actually the visitors in the contest.

"We found ourselves behind, 3-0 after two innings," said head coach Greg Largent.

In the third, after two outs, Tony Gonzales singled, Josh Miguel struck out but reached first on the dropped ball, then Spencer Franceschetti ripped an RBI single, Leighton Pangilinan followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2. Nick Largent was hit by a pitch and Derrick DeFreitas just missed knocking one out, flying out to the warning track to end the inning.

Escalon took the lead in the fourth with two runs, keyed by an RBI double from Patrick Mulry.

"We opened it up in the fifth," Largent said of eventually taking an 11-4 win.

DeFreitas drove one in with a sacrifice fly in the fifth, Gonzales had a double and the Cougars took advantage of some Weston Ranch errors to push their runs across.

"We put up a total of six runs in the inning," Largent said. "They answered with one more, then we scored our last run in the seventh, Aaron Pangilinan reached on a single and advanced on an error, Mulry drove him in with an RBI single."

John Lopez went five strong innings to get the win and Justin Martinez pitched the final two innings in a non-save situation. Big hitters were Aaron Pangilinan, 3-for-4, Leighton Pangilinan, 2-for-5, Mulry 2-for-4 and Gonzales, 2-for-2.

Friday, hosting Summerville in the tournament pool play, the Cougars made quick work of them, taking a 10-0 win off the field. Aaron Pangilinan got the start and pitched well, allowing only three hits and striking out six.

"We played flawless defense for the first time," added Largent.

Two runs in the first, one in the third, three in the fourth and four in the fifth added up to 10 runs for the home team. Franceschetti and Leighton Pangilinan each had a double, Largent ripped a two-run double and had a total of three RBI for the game. Franceschetti scored four runs, Mulry was 2-for-2 and Leighton Pangilinan went 2-for-3 on the day.

"That put us in the championship game on Saturday against Manteca," said Largent. "We ended up with a 9-6 win and took the championship."

It was a back and forth game early, with the Cougars jumping out fast with a three-run top of the first.

Miguel was hit by a pitch, Franceschetti doubled, Leighton Pangilinan doubled and Largent had an RBI ground out. Charlie McDonald then drove a run in with a sacrifice fly for the 3-0 lead.

Manteca got an unearned run in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-1, the Cougars got the run back in the second on a Mulry single, a Travis Cardoza sacrifice, a Mulry steal of third and a sacrifice fly from Miguel.

"In the fourth they scored three to tie it up," Largent said. "Leighton had started and he ran out of gas, we made a pitching change."

Martinez came in with the bases loaded and allowed one hit, the run charged to Pangilinan, then got out if it without further damage. Still, Manteca had tied it at 4-4.

Escalon scratched a run out of errors in the fifth for a 5-4 lead, Manteca tied it in the bottom of the frame, then the Cougars took the lead for good with a four-run sixth.

"Miguel had a leadoff single, Franceschetti singled and then Leighton hit a three-run jack," Largent said of getting the timely long ball.

That gave Escalon an 8-5 lead and another run scored on an error later in the inning for a 9-5 cushion.

"We can leave the yard at any time with four or five guys," noted Largent of the home run threat. "The kids are strong."

Manteca got one run in the bottom of the sixth but couldn't get any closer and the Cougars claimed the title with the 9-6 win.

Leighton Pangilinan went three-plus innings, Martinez was solid in three innings of work and Largent got the save, striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh.

Miguel was 2-for-2 with two runs scored, Franceschetti was 3-for-5 with two runs scored, Leighton Pangilinan went 2-for-4 with a double, homer and four RBI and single hits also came from Largent, McDonald, DeFreitas and Mulry.

"Manteca made eight or nine errors and we took advantage of all of them," Largent explained. "Now we're 6-0 to start the season, had a really good week."

The team has actually had little chance to practice, spending more of their time on the field trying to get it into playing shape after the rains than practicing, but Largent said they have been good at fitting in trips to the weight room and working out as best they can.

"I'm real proud of them," he said.

The Cougars will start the Trans-Valley League campaign at home this week, hosting Riverbank in a Friday, March 13 game at 4 p.m.