Taft College rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth inning, but it was too little, too late as the Cougars lost on Friday by a final score of 12-8 at Fresno City College in the second game of a Central Valley Conference series.
The two squads have split the opening games after the Cougars cruised to an 11-2 win on Thursday. The series finale is set for Saturday (Mar. 9) back at Taft with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
Fresno set the tone early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first off Taft starting pitcher Michael Barker. The Cougars got a run back in the top of the fourth thanks to a RBI single by James McCallum that scored Jake Pearson.
But the Rams responded with an eight-run rally in the bottom of the fourth to effectively put the game out of reach for the Cougars. Fresno banged out six hits and totaled four walks off three different Taft pitchers in the marathon inning.
Down 10-1, Taft slowly chipped away at the Fresno lead. Leo Fontanez hit a two-run single in the fifth and Buster Hardman's ground out in the sixth scored Greyson Barrett for a run.
Headed to the ninth, the Cougars were down 12-4. Taft took advantage of three walks, two wild pitches, a hit batter, and a RBI single by Lachlan Brear to string together a two-out, four-run rally. But Fresno's Jack Reitsma was able to strike out Tyler Gardner with the bases loaded to end the threat and game.
Keegan Vialpando went 2 for 3 with a pair of walks and a RBI while Hardman and Fontanez both drove in two runs each to lead Taft at the plate.
Barker took the loss after allowing six runs and eight hits over 3 1/3 innings. Kaidin Conrad pitched well in relief, tossing a pair of scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
The loss dropped Taft to 8-9 overall and 1-1 in the CVC while Fresno moved to 12-6 and 1-1.