Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
RIDGECREST – Taft College hit safely in every inning here last Thursday and cruised to a 14-5 non-conference baseball victory over Cerro Coso College.
Behind a 23-hit attack the Cougars avenged a 4-3 loss to the Coyotes in an early season game played in Taft.
TC (5-10 CVC, 12-15 overall) has won five of its last six games but will be hard pressed to maintain that level of success when the Cougars go up against Central Valley Conference leader Fresno City College (12-2, 17-9 overall) in a three-game series that begins today on the Rams home field. Thursday's 1 p.m. game will be played at Cougar Field on the TC campus and the series wraps up Saturday in Fresno.
Designated hitter Brendan Halstrom, the team's batting leader, led the way at Cerro Coso with a run-scoring double and three-run homer.
Luke Lubiniecki, Fabian Gutierrez, Richard Ortiz and Dayton Wilson all had three hits apiece. Ortiz banged two doubles and Wilson a triple. Robert Higgs had two hits and drove in two runs and Austin Pendergrass and Kaivon Kealoha each singled twice.
Head coach Vince Maiocco pressed six pitchers into the action.
Staff ace Robby Brewster worked the first four innings to notch his sixth win of the season against three losses. He allowed two runs on five hits, struck out two and walked one.
Matt Rogers, Tyson Canfield, Brett Haney and Shane Kotz didn't allow a run in their brief stints but Alfred Souza was touched for three runs on three hits in the seventh.
After spotting the Coyotes a run in the home half of the first, the Cougars took the lead for good in the third with a pair of runs, then scored five times on seven hits and an error in the fourth. It could have been a bigger inning but the Cougars left the bases loaded. Eleven batters came to the plate.
Like Brewster, Cerro Coso starter Chase Stebbins went four innings but unlike his counterpart gave up seven runs on 14 hits.
After getting off to a slow start Fresno City came to life once the conference wars began. The Rams were 5-7 in pre-conference games but have won 12 of 14 in the conference. They are ranked No. 8 in northern California.
Merced (13-4) and Reedley (10-5) are chasing Fresno. Taft, Porterville and Sequoias all enter the week 5-10 in the conference with West Hills-Coalinga (3-12) at the bottom.