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Cougars snap 26-game losing streak
Weston Ranch pitcher Chris Fleckenstein led the Cougars to their first Valley Oak League victory since 2007 in the season finale at Manteca Thursday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
After two long, hard years the Weston Ranch Cougars finally have the monkey off their back.

Clean execution and timely hitting helped the Cougars – who were riding a 26-game Valley Oak League losing streak heading into Thursday’s season finale against intra-district rival Manteca – operate like a finely tuned machine en route to their 6-2 victory over the Buffaloes.

“We definitely ended the season on a high note,” Weston Ranch head coach Dave Smith said. “We played well as a team today and put everything together and that really showed.

“It’s sweet to get a win in league. You go that long without one and you forget what that feels like.”

Weston Ranch (1-13, 3-17 overall) wasted no time in getting on base with a Corey Lee leadoff single that turned into the game’s first run when No. 2 batter Brandon Matsumoto drove him in with a deep double.

Antonio Joseph drove Matsumoto in to give Weston Ranch a 2-0 lead and the confidence that they’d need. The Cougars’ last league win came nearly two years ago, when they downed Manteca (4-10, 10-15 overall), 2-0.

But despite the tough road that the Cougars have followed, the future might be uncharacteristically bright for the squad that will graduate only two seniors — Michael Piccirili and Chris Fleckenstein.

Freshman first baseman Cristian Vasquez showed more than just glimmers of promise with his 2-for-3 performance with two runs driven in. He also took a spill on a routine ground ball and was still able to recover with enough time to get the out at first base.

“It’s was a nice way to end the season today — going out with a win and playing team baseball like that,” Vasquez said. “We’re a young team, so that’s a win that we can put under our belts and come back next year and try and go even further.

“We’re expecting big things.”

Part of the Cougars’ early dominance was established by hurler Fleckenstein who racked up three strike outs and retired the side in order in two of the first three innings. He gave up only six hits and allowing only one in the sixth inning, where Weston Ranch tacked on two additional runs to push the door closed.

Helping the Cougars in the quest to break the 26-game streak were Lee (two runs), Matsumoto (two runs, RBI), and Vasquez, who drove in two runs despite being caught off first base after driving in his first.

“We’re going to get eight guys back next year, and hopefully we can take what we did today and build on it and take it into next summer,” Smith said. “All we can hope for is a better year.”

Sam Jorgensen finished the game 1-for-3 for the Buffaloes with an RBI, while Daniel Miramonte had a double. Kiefer Haynes used a seventh-inning pinch hit to record a single and a stolen base en route to crossing home plate.