Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
Taft College and College of the Sequoias traded one-run Central Valley Conference baseball victories last Thursday and Saturday, but the Cougars won the series 2-1.
On Thursday in Visalia the Giants scored six times in the sixth winning to come away with a 7-6 victory, but two days later in Taft it was the Cougars scoring twice in the eighth and once in the ninth for a 4-3 win.
The Cougars, who have won three of their last four and five of seven, draw the conference bye this week but travel to Ridgecrest Thursday for a non-conference outing with Cerro Coso College (12-14). TC is 10-15 overall and 5-10 in the conference.
Sequoias broke open a pitcher's duel with its six-run burst on Thursday. The Giants got just four hits but took advantage of two walks, a hit batter and two stolen bases. The Cougars were leading 3-1 at the time and rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to get within a run.
With three runs in and runners at second and third with one out, Sequoias reliever Alex Garcia induced two ground ball outs that clinched the win.
The top of the Giants lineup did all the damage, going 8-for-17 with five RBIs.
Cougar second sacker Luke Lubiniecki went 3-for-4, Travis Turner doubled and singled and Austin Pendergrass hit two singles.
Seth Sorenson shut out the Giants over the first five innings but ran into trouble in the ill-fated sixth, giving up three runs before leaving in favor of Tyson Canfield, who also allowed three runs and took the loss.
Saturday's series finale began as a pitching duel between Taft's Robby Brewster and Sequoias' Reid Feeley. Both went six innings and left with the Giants leading 3-1.
TC tied it in the eighth when Pendergrass singled to center field to get things going. Libiniecki walked and following a fly ball out both runners moved up on a groundout. Designated hitter Brendan Halstrom lashed a line drive double to center field to drive in both runners and tie the game.
In the ninth the Cougars loaded the bases on a leadoff single from Travis Turner, a hit batter and a walk. Catcher Richard Ortiz also was plunked by a pitch to send the winning run across the plate.
Halstrom had a double and single to drive in a pair and Turner had two singles. Pendergrass, Lubiniecki, Kealoha and Ricky Sottile had the other Cougar hits.
Brewster allowed just one earned run on five hits, walked four and struck out four. Reliever Matt Rogers worked the final three innings, shutting out the Giants on three hits a walk and a strikeout.