Taft offense explodes in 20-7 conference win over Cerro Coso

Wes Herbert (Photo by Augustin Duenas)
Wes Herbert (Photo by Augustin Duenas)

Jade Smoot smacked a pair of home runs and drove in four runs while Wes Herbert had 5 RBI to help lead Taft College to a huge 20-7 rout at Cerro Coso College on Tuesday in the opening game of a three-game Central Valley Conference series.

The series resumes on Thursday (Mar. 14) in Taft at 2 p.m. with the finale set for Saturday (Mar. 16) back in Ridgecrest, also starting at 2 p.m.

The Cougars' 20 runs, 19 RBI, and 18 hits set new season highs for the squad while their four home runs tied their best mark.

Taft knocked around Cerro Coso starting pitcher Diego Delgado for six runs and four hits in the top of the first inning. Wes Herbert lined a two-run double to score James McCallum and Jake Pearson with the game's first runs. Two batters later, Keegan Vialpando nailed a RBI double to bring home Herbert. But it was Smoot that delivered the biggest blow, a two-out, three-run home run to stake the Cougars to the big early lead.

 The Cougars added single run in the third before putting up three runs in the fourth. Herbert provided the fireworks with his three-run home run to Taft up 10-2.

Taft put the exclamation point on the victory with a seven-run rally in the fifth. Smoot got it started with a solo home run to lead off the frame. Three batters later, Pearson hit a RBI single. With the bases loaded and two outs, Zach Jones came through in the clutch, smashing a grand slam to clear the bases.

The party didn't stop there. The Cougars got two runners on base and took advantage of a Cerro Coso error to score their final run of the inning.

In the eighth, McCallum hit a two-run double and Buster Hardman added a RBI single in the ninth to close out Taft's big day at the plate.

Smoot went 2 for 4 with a walk and scored two runs while Herbert scored three times, going 2 for 5.  Jones also had 4 RBI, going 1 for 3 with a home run and two runs. Hardman drove in two runs while Javier Ramirez and Vialpando had three hits each.

Cedric Corrales got the win, tossing five innings while allowing five runs and nine hits. Brady Wilson (1 1/3 innings) and Luis DeLeon (1 inning) pitched well in the relief with scoreless outings.