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Cougars KO Manteca early
Sophomore hurler Rivas shines in relief
Manteca’s Trey Roberts slides safely into second base as the ball skips past Escalon infielder Josh Miguel’s legs. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin
Manteca left it up to a sophomore to stop the bleeding.

But by the time C.J. Rivas had toed the rubber to start the third inning the wound was too much for the Buffaloes to recover from in a 7-0 loss to Escalon Tuesday.

Rivas watched as the Trans Valley League powerhouse powered its way to a gaping seven-run lead during the first two innings.

Spencer Franceschetti and Leighton Pangilinan (1 for 1, two runs, two HBPs, BB) charged the Cougars (7-0) with back-to-back homers in the first. Then Aaron Pangilinan and Derrick Defreitas each hammered RBI doubles in succession. 

Clean-up hitter Nick Largent (2 for 3, two runs) continued the surge in the second with a run-scoring double, and Charlie McDonald followed suit with a two-RBI single to right center.

Enter Rivas, who provided one of the few bright spots for the Buffaloes (5-4-1).

“I was a little nervous,” he admitted. “I  hadn’t pitched in a while, so I was just going out there trying to throw strikes and see if I can get some outs. It worked out well for me.

“When I got out of that first inning it felt good, so I just wanted to see if I could keep doing it.”

After striking out two during a 1-2-3 third, Rivas worked out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth unscathed. He finished with four strikeouts, two hits and one walk over the final five innings of what was his first extensive outing from the mound this season.

Rivas previously logged less than an inning in his first appearance against Los Banos Feb. 28 during the Johansen Tournament. He had just joined the team from the basketball season and showed obvious rust as he gave up four runs on two walks and a hit batsmen

“He wasn’t ready then, but with non-league winding down we thought we should get him in Manteca coach Gene Ballardo said. “He came in and did a good job of keeping them scoreless for the rest of the game. He was very effective.”

Aaron Pangilinan notched the win for Escalon, tossing five innings while striking out five and allowing four hits. McDonald fanned four in his two innings of work.

Leadoff batter Ryan Knisley had two infield hits for Manteca. Robbie Wise added a double in the fourth.

With the Valley Oak League season less than a week away, Ballardo and his staff decided to give their reserves a shot. The Buffaloes wrap up the preseason with Chavez at home Friday and Lodi on the road Monday before squaring off with rival East Union for their first home-and-away series.

“That’s what today was all about,” Ballardo said. “Not to take anything away from Escalon, they hit the heck out of the ball and are definitely going to be a force in their league.

 “You always want to win all of them, but we have to save some of our pitching and see what some of our other guys can do. On Friday’s game we’re going to go after (Chavez) and probably give some of our starters a rest Monday.”