Taft College wins 7-5 and 8-1

Taft College tuned up for spring break by finishing off College of the Sequoias in the final two games of a Central Valley Conference baseball series.

The Cougars got solid pitching from starters Braden Keathley and Shawn Davisson along with timely hitting and sterling defense to earn 7-5 and 8-1 victories.

“That ranks up there as far as most important wins in my short tenure here,” said head coach Vince Maiocco.  “It was good to get two quality wins against a team that is ahead of us in the standings.  That was encouraging.”

Not only is Sequoias ahead of the Cougars in the CVC standings, the Giants were ranked 13th last week in northern California.  TC was 18th.

“Shawn did a great job,” Maiocco said.  “We hoped to get a couple of good innings from him and he gives us six.”

Maiocco had expected to use a committee approach when it came to pitchers in Saturday’s final game of the series because starter Garret Jensen is on the shelf for three weeks with stiffness in his shoulder.

Davisson blanked the Giants on four hits through six innings, striking out three and walking none.

Five pitchers from the bullpen finished up.

Keathley improved his record to 3-1 with his six innings of work in Thursday’s game, giving up two runs on six hits, striking out two and walking one.

Jesus Del Rosario got his fourth save of the season.

The Cougars jumped out to quick leads in both games.

On Thursday in Visalia they scored four runs in the second and coasted into the bottom of the seventh with a 7-2 lead when the Giants scored three times to make it close.

At home on Saturday, the Cougars broke it open early with a five-run splurge in the second and built an 8-0 bulge before Sequoias scored in the ninth.

In each game, leadoff batter Anthony Rodriguez went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs.  One of his hits was a double.

Michael Hayes had two triples and a single to drive in six runs, Perry Rogan was 3-for-6 with a triple, Dominic McGovern was 3-for-4, and Darby Ventura belted his sixth homer of the season.

The Cougars played solid defense, especially in Saturday’s game when they played errorless ball, turned three double plays and got a highlight reel catch from Dominic McGovern in center field that prevented a run.

“Defensively, that kept momentum on our side,” Maiocco said.  “Besides making that great catch, Dominic contributed offensively.  That was good to see because he’s been having trouble hitting.  If he can pick it up and play like he did last year, that will really help us down the stretch.”

The Cougars (9-6 CVC, 16-8 overall) are in Stockton today and tomorrow to play a two-game set with San Joaquin Delta and will head to Modesto Wednesday for another non-conference outing.

“Both play in the Orange Empire, which is one of the best baseball conferences in the state.  If we can sneak a win or two from those guys, that will help us out a lot.”

Maiocco said he’s treating the three games like conference games.