Cougars fall to College of the Desert

A 4-1 loss to College of the Desert Tuesday in Palm Desert may have dealt the Taft College baseball team a fatal blow in terms of the Cougars’ playoff chances.

“It was very disappointing,” said head coach Vince Maiocco.  “It was a tough one to lose.”

It was a non-conference game, but the Cougars need to string together some wins to have a shot at the playoffs.

“We pretty much have to run the tables now,” Maiocco said.

That means winning the six remaining Central Valley Conference games beginning with this afternoon’s tussle at Reedley, a team the Cougars have swept this season.

TC will play those six remaining games in nine days.

The next three are at home beginning with College of the Sequoias Saturday at 1 p.m.  Then it’s West Hills Sunday at the same time and Porterville Tuesday at 2 p.m.

TC lost two of three to Sequoias and swept Porterville.

While the Cougars’ playoffs hopes are dimming, Maiocco wants his team to finish the season strong.

“If we can find a way to get a couple more wins it will be a building block for next year,” he said.  “We want to be able to feel good about how we end the season.”

With six games in nine days, the pitching staff will be stretched thin.

Garret Jenson gets the start today at Reedley with Shawn Wilyman going against Sequoias and perhaps Juan Beltran on Sunday when West Hills comes to town.

Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess, Maiocco said.

The Cougars will finish the season against conference No. 2 Fresno next Thursday and front-runner Merced on Friday.  Both are on the road and both are 3-0 against the Cougars.

In the loss to Desert, freshman catcher Darby Ventura bashed a sixth-inning homer for TC’s lone run.

Ventura leads the team with six homers and a .531 slugging average.  He leads the team in doubles with 10 and runs batted in with 34.

Jeremy Burleson smacked a double.

Desert out-hit the Cougars 9-6.

Only one of Desert’s runs was earned.

Devan Thomas worked the first four innings, giving up one earned run on six hits and striking out three.

Kevin Chapman pitched the next three, giving up two unearned runs, two hits, striking out four and walking one.

Zach Biehl worked the last inning, giving up a hit and a walk.