Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
Taft College got its baseball season off on the right foot Friday with an impressive victory over the No. 5 ranked team in northern California, but the Cougars stumbled in the second game of opening day.
The Cougars, ranked No. 19 in the pre-season poll, defeated Feather River 9-4 in Friday's morning game but gave up three unearned runs in the ninth inning in a 6-4 loss to Barstow.
In the opener, sophomore Robby Brewster worked 5.2 innings to get the win. He scattered eight hits, struck out four and walked two.
Freshman catcher Richard Ortiz led the offense with a triple and single and a sacrifice fly to drive in two runs.
Travis Turner had two singles to drive in a pair and Shane Kotz had a two-run singled.
Fibian Gutierrez and Robert Higgs had doubles and Austin Pendergrass singled twice.
Ricky Sottile laid down two sacrifice bunts.
Will Moore, a freshman from Taft High, worked two and a third innings, giving up a hit and striking out one.
The Cougars seemed headed for another victory in the afternoon game but gave up three runs on two errors, a hit batter and one base hit in the top of the ninth.
Pendergrass, a sophomore center fielder from Taft High, was the offensive spark, going 3-for-4 at the plate, 3-for-3 in stolen bases and scored two runs.
Turner had two hits and Guitierrez, Kotz, Sottile and Kyle Wedel one apiece. All nine Cougar hits were singles.
Matt Rogers worked the first four innings, gave up two earned runs on seven hits and struck out two batters. Tyson Canfield, Caleb Newman, Jordan Hart, Alfred Souza and Kotz all got in some work. Kotz took the tough loss.
The Cougars will host another three-team round-robin Friday and Saturday, playing College of the Siskiyous on Friday and Cerro Coso on Saturday. Both games are at 10:30 a.m. at Cougar Field.