It was a rough week for Taft College baseball as hope of a strong finish in the Central Valley Conference was derailed.
The Cougars lost two of three games and will finish the season this week with three more – two of them at home beginning with today's clash with conference champ Fresno (18-3 CVC, 23-10 overall). They travel to Visalia Thursday to take on College of the Sequoias (10-11, 12-21) and wrap up the season at home Friday against second place Reedley (15-7, 22-12).
Freshman catcher/designated hitter Brendan Halstrom had a big series for the Cougars, going 6-for-12 with two homers, two doubles and five runs batted in.
Porterville 4, TC 3
The Pirates overcame solo homers by Halstrom and Richard Ortiz to eke out a victory in a pitcher's duel between TC's Seth Sorensen and Porterville's Lucas Hugie.
After Porterville took a 3-0 lead into the seventh the Cougars fought back with two runs, one of them a Halstrom homer, to get within one, but the Pirates scored an unearned run in the home half of the inning.
Ortiz slugged a two-out homer in the eighth to again pull the Cougars to within a run but Pirate reliever Edgar Reyes shut the door.
Halstrom was 3-for-4 with a homer and double, and Robert Higgs 2-for-3.
Seth Sorensen worked six innings, giving up three runs on 10 hits, struck out two and walked one.
TC 7, Merced 5
After falling behind 2-0 the Cougars scored four runs in the fifth on Ortiz's sacrifice fly and Halstrom's three-run blast.
TC put the game away in the seventh with a three-run burst on doubles by Travis Turner and Ricky Sottile, a single and stolen base by Dayton Wilson and squeeze bunt from Austin Pendergrass.
Turner was 3-for-3
Sophomore Robby Brewster notched his seventh win of the season by working eight solid innings. He gave up just two earned runs on eight hits, struck out six and walked one. Matt Rogers earned his second save.
West Hills 14, TC 3
The last-place Falcons have had Taft's number all season, winning three of the four games between the teams.
A seven-run second inning put the game away early.
Falcon starter Justin Vlotho earned his first win of the season by working seven strong innings. He gave up one run on four hits, struck out five and walked two.
Halstrom led the Cougars again with a double, single and an RBI. Sottile banged a two-run double and Ortiz also had a double.
The Cougars used six pitchers.