Someone might beat Escalon High, it might even occur in today's championship game of the 40th Windemuth Classic, but it will take a heck of an effort to get it done.
The Cougars were at their best Wednesday, even though they were dipping deep into their bullpen to play their third game in three days.
"We have a lot of good arms on this team," coach Greg Largent said. "Good right-handers and good lefties. It's a fight to get them all innings."
It was Justin Martinez's turn, and all the junior did was throw five innings of no-hit ball before settling for a one-hitter in the Cougars' 11-1 victory over Modesto in the final round-robin game.
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Escalon (19-0) faces Redwood Christian of San Lorenzo (14-1) in the 3:30 p.m. final at Downey. Largent realizes the Cougars are marked.
"Escalon's never had an unbeaten baseball team. It's just so hard over the season to get it right every game," Largent said. "All it takes is our guys having an off day, or for their pitcher to have a great day."
Martinez made sure it did not happen against Modesto.
"Justin's our long reliever, but in a tournament like this, you need to have plenty of pitchers," Largent said.
The left-hander's effectiveness, he was a little wild but worked his way out of two bases-loaded jams, caught even Largent by surprise.
"When we went out for the sixth, I was going to pull Justin and let someone else throw," Largent said. "Then my coaches came over and told me he was still throwing a no-hitter."
Zach Snowden ruined the bid with an RBI double with one out in the sixth, but the game ended moments later when Snowden was doubled off second base on a fly ball.
It was quite a contrast to Escalon's first two tournament wins — seventh-inning rallies to knock off large-school powers Davis and Enochs.
While Martinez had his ups and downs, giving up eight walks, teammate Leighton Pangilinan made sure he didn't have to worry about it.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 230-pound catcher belted two doubles to the fence, including a bases-loaded shot to center to score all three runners in the sixth.
"I''m trying to stay patient, letting the ball come to me rather than lunging at it," said Pangilinan, a .532 hitter who is second in the state with nine home runs. "If I can take good swings, home runs will happen. The ones I enjoy hitting are balls up the gap."
Playing summer ball with CenCal of Oakdale and the San Francisco Giants' scout team, he said, forced him to become more disciplined.
"You're facing good pitching every time out, and those guys will advantage of a wild swinger," Pangilinan said.
Angel Leighton (4-0, 1.67 ERA), Leighton's sophomore brother, is scheduled to start for the Cougars today.
REDWOOD CHRISTIAN 9, CERES 5, at Davis — The Bulldogs (10-8), who start five sophomores and a freshman, used a five-run second to take the lead, but then faltered to be denied a spot in the final. Tyler Cummings opened the second with a triple, and Brent Ward later delivered a key hit with his two-run single. The Bulldogs committed 10 errors, though, leading to many of Redwood's runs.
"Because we are so young, we're working on our consistency," Ceres assistant coach John Bussard said. "We've shown flashes of really good things, but we've also shown how young we are at times.
"It's taken us to this point of the season to settle into a lineup and get people to where we think their future is going to be. We're getting there, but we're learning."