HUGHSON — When it rains, it pours.
That was never more true than Thursday, and not just because of the heavy rain that arrived in the late afternoon.
For the second day in a row, unbeaten Escalon High pounded out an early lead on its way to a lopsided Trans-Valley League victory over Hughson.
The Cougars used a six-run first inning, and scored six more over the next two innings, to beat Hughson 12-5 in a rain-shortened, five-inning game.
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Escalon (16-0, 9-0), No. 1 in The Bee's small-school rankings, had scored five runs in the first inning of Wednesday's 10-0 victory over Hughson.
"With the way our lineup is hitting, people can pick their poison," Escalon coach Greg Largent said. "If you pitch around the top of the lineup, you have to go at Nick (Largent), Aaron (Pangilinan) and Charley (McDonald)."
The Cougars, who average 10 runs a game and boast a team batting average of .369, got it going right away.
Leadoff hitter Spencer Franceschetti belted a pitch over the fence, but Hughson's Jason Meyer appeared to be out of trouble by retiring two of the next three. With two out, though, a walk was followed by Pangilinan's two-run single. After another walk, Patrick Mulry, Travis Cardoza and John Miguel lined run-scoring singles for the 6-0 lead.
"That makes it nice for our pitchers, going out there with an early lead," said Largent, who watched John Lopez throw a complete game to raise his record to 6-0. "It wasn't great conditions for either pitcher, but John just focused on throwing strikes and letting the defense make plays."
Hughson's Justin Aguilar had a three-run homer in the third, cutting Escalon's lead to 9-3, but the Cougars answered with three runs in the third.
Lopez had a five-hitter, striking out seven and walking three, in his five innings. He also allowed a solo homer to Jake Etcheverry in the third.
The Huskies contained cleanup hitter Leighton Pangilinan, who is among the state leaders with nine homers, but his brother, sophomore Aaron Pangilinan, was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
"The good thing about having this strong lineup is that if someone cools off, they've got guys around them to keep it going," Largent said. "The hitting has gotten pretty contagious."
The pitching got a boost this week with the impressive return of Charley McDonald. He got a late state after wrestling, but threw a six-inning, one-hitter at Hughson on Wednesday.
"We've been patient with Charley because he was banged up after wrestling," Largent said. "With Charley healthy, it's allowed us to give Aaron a couple weeks off from pitching. That should help keep Aaron fresh."
The Cougars' perfect record will be put to the test next week in the Windemuth Classic. They play Davis (Monday) and Enochs (Tuesday), Nos. 3 and 4 in the large-school rankings and 1-2 in the Modesto Metro Conference.
"We need to see those caliber teams to make us stronger," Largent said. "It's going to be a good test for our pitchers. We're going in there to try to win, just like we do a league game."