Cougars capitalize on wild pitch to win Sunday
A rare wild pitch on an intentional walk was the catalyst that gave Taft College a 5-4 victory in 11 innings Sunday over visiting West Hills College.
The errant pitch on ball four to Jeremiah Twisselman allowed Jeremy Burleson, who opened the inning with a single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt, to scoot to third. He scored the winning run on another wild pitch.
The dramatic finish gave the Cougars victories in two out of the three Central Valley Conference games they played Thursday, Saturday and Sunday to improve their league log to 12-9 and overall record to 22-18-1.
It also assured them of finishing above .500 and their first winning season since 1994.
Taft beat Reedley last Thursday and lost to College of the Sequoias on Saturday.
TC finishes off the season with a home game Tuesday against Porterville – a team they’ve beaten three times – and road games against conference runner-up Fresno on Thursday and league-leading Merced on Saturday.
Tyler Smith smacked a two-run homer in the first inning to get the Cougars off to a good start against West Hills.
TC added two more in the third for a 4-0 lead, but the Falcons got close with one swing of the bat in the fourth when catcher Richard Romero belted a three-run homer over the left field fence.
West Hills tied it with a run in the fifth, and neither team threatened until the bottom of the 11th when Burleson’s hit opened the door for the game-winner.
TC used four pitchers with Juan Beltran working the first three and Devin Thomas the fourth and fifth.
Kevin Chapman handcuffed the Falcons on just one hit over his four shutout innings before closer Zach Biehl finished the last two to get his first win of the season.
Cougars 10, Reedley 9
The Cougars stole 11 bases – four of them by Smith and three by Anthony Rodriguez.
Smith, who leads the team with 19, swiped second in the first inning, second and third in the fifth, and second in the sixth.
He had a chance to go 4-for-4, but was caught trying to steal second in the eighth.
Ironically, he had only one hit, but walked once, was hit by a pitch twice and was safe on a fielder’s choice.
Gentry Mitchell led Taft’s 13-hit attack by going 3-for-4 and driving in three runs.
Dominic McGovern, Burleson and Twisselman had two hits apiece.
Garret Jenson got the win by working six innings. He gave up three earned runs on seven hits, struck out five and walked one.
He came out after the sixth, but Reedley roughed up Thomas Breakfield and Kevin Chapman for five runs on five hits – including a three-run homer – in less than an inning.
Biehl came on to get the last out and shut out the Tigers in the eighth and ninth to earn his 11th save of the season.
Sequoias 6, Cougars 2
The Giants scored three unearned runs in the seventh to pull away.
Anthony Rodriguez and McGovern had a pair of hits each.
Shawn Wilyman (6-4) took the loss. He gave up three earned runs on seven hits, struck out seven and walked two in eight innings. Biehl retired the Giants in order in the ninth.
Smith scored in the first after getting hit by a pitch, moving to second on a groundout, and scoring on a McGovern single.
Burleson singled in the fourth, went to second on a passed ball, to third on a fly to right and scored on a groundout.
The Cougars stranded nine runners.