The Modesto Junior College baseball team took a step forward last year and, a year later, still shows a confident forward lean.
The Pirates have opened the 2013-14 season with a 4-0 burst via three wins over De Anza and another over Mission. Better still, MJC plated 40 runs against only 10 by their opponents.
For a team that hasn’t won a league title since 2006, that’s a promising a start. Not surprisingly, Modesto figures to be better this spring.
Bo Aiello, the MJC coach from 1983 to ‘08, returned last spring as MJC fought to an 18-18 record and 11-13 for fifth place in the Big 8 Conference. But look closer: The Pirates opened with five straight conference losses but finished with four wins in their last six to squeeze into the NorCal Playoffs.
“We were inexperienced last year but we maxed out and got hot at the right time. I thought we overachieved and changed the culture of the program,” assistant coach Zeb Brayton said. “We have the same qualities but more talent this year.”
Modesto can thank a large contingent from Escalon High’s strong program: Returners Gino Franceschetti (second base), Patrick Mulry (center field) and newcomer Aaron Pangilanan.
Pangilinan, a first baseman-pitcher, sat out last year after he played the year before for a JC in Texas (he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox but did not sign). He’s already made a big impact for the Pirates.
Also with the Pirates are ex-Cougars Josh Miguel and Nathan Chunn. Miguel, an infielder and former prep football star, bounced back to Modesto after he suffered a broken leg in the 2013 baseball season opener for Merced. Chunn, a catcher starred for Escalon last year. Mulry batted .277 with a team-leading 26 RBIs for MJC last season, while Franceschetti hit .254. Also back is right fielder Kaden Cline.
Here is the rest of the MJC spring sports scene: