Taft College surged to its fourth straight win thanks to its 8-2 Central Valley Conference victory on Saturday over visiting Porterville College. The Cougars swept the three-game series, taking the opener 7-2 on Tuesday before Thursday's 20-1 rout on the road in Game 2.
The Cougar baseball team had some special guests on hand for Saturday's win. TC welcomed members of the West Side Recreation and Park District Ponytail Softball League as well as West Side Little League to the contest.
Prior to the start of the game, the youth athletes lined up for the national anthem with Taft baseball players as well as Cougie the Cougar. John Bryant, president of West Side Little League also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
On the field, Taft had to erase a two-run deficit after Porterville rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the third inning off Cougar pitcher Kaidin Conrad.
But Taft responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to go out in front for good. A wild pitch allowed Jacob Cruz to score before Buster Hardman hit a two-run single to drive in Javier Ramirez and Brady Wilson.
The Cougars added single runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings before closing out the win by scoring twice in the eighth. Ramirez smashed a solo home run in the sixth and Leo Fontanez also homered in the seventh for the Cougars.
Taft totaled 11 hits in the contest, getting two each from Hardman (2-for-5, 2 RBI), Fontanez (2-for-3, 2 R, 1 RBI), and Cruz (2-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI).
Six different Cougars pitched in the ball game. Cassius Sly opened the contest with a scoreless first inning while Cedric Corrales was credited with the win with two scoreless innings of relief. Manny Guzman (2 2/3 inn.), Luis DeLeon (1/3 inn.), and Fontanez (1 inn.) kept Porterville off the board.
Saturday's victory improved Taft to 21-12 overall and 14-4 in the CVC. The Cougars will take a break from conference play and return to action on Thursday (Apr. 18) when they travel to Compton College for a 7 p.m. non-conference game at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton.