Freshman Manny Guzman tossed eight shutout innings while the Taft College offense banged out a season-high 20 hits in a huge 15-6 win at College of the Sequoias on Tuesday to begin a crucial three-game Central Valley Conference series.
Taft's fifth straight conference victory moved the Cougars into a three-way tie with Sequoias and Fresno City College for first place atop the CVC standings at 15-4 with just two games remaining. The series continues Thursday (Apr. 25) at 2 p.m. in Taft with the finale set for Friday (Apr. 26) back in Visalia, also at 2 p.m.
Making his first start of the season, Guzman came up big for the Cougars when they needed it most. Guzman commanded the strike zone and kept the COS offense silent for eight innings. He scattered seven hits (all singles) while walking just one batter. Guzman struck out three and improved to 2-0 overall this season.
While Guzman was dealing on the mound, Wes Herbert had himself a game in the batter's box for the Cougars. Herbert drove in seven runs thanks to an impressive 4-for-5 day at the plate. He smashed a two-run home run in the third inning to give Taft a quick 4-0 lead.
In the fourth, he drove in a pair of runs with a single to extend the Cougar advantage to 6-0. And in the sixth, Herbert came through with a bases-clearing double, as part of a big five-run rally, that saw Taft go ahead 11-0.
Andres Rolon smacked a three-run home run while James McCallum added to the party with a solo homer in the seventh and Taft held a commanding 15-0 lead.
COS did its best to spoil the big day by the Cougars, rallying for six runs in the bottom of the ninth before Kaidin Conrad got the final two outs of the ball game to secure the big Taft win.
McCallum went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBI while Rolon went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI. Javier Ramirez was also impressive at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and a pair of RBI.
While Taft and Sequoias continue to battle, Fresno City closes out its CVC schedule against Cerro Coso College. Cerro Coso took the opener on Tuesday by a final score of 7-3 in Fresno. Game 2 is Thursday at 6 p.m. in Ridgecrest with Friday's final game set for 1 p.m. back at FCC.