Taft College falls to Merced by two runs, but loss of =Allen Sanchez is a much biger loss

 Losing the rubber match of a three-game Central Valley Conference series is something a team can quickly overcome.

Losing the ace of your pitching staff is much more difficult to get over.

That’s what Taft College coach Vince Maiocco and his players face this week after 6-foot-4 sophomore Allen Sanchez broke his ankle in the first inning of Saturday’s 12-6 loss to the No. 6 ranked Merced Blue Devils.

“It’s pretty devastating for Allen, the players and the program,” Maiocco said.  “It’s definitely a big hit, but you move on.  That’s the only way you can take it.  You can’t feel sorry for yourself.  You pick up the pieces and move on.”

Sanchez had a 1.59 earned run average in his 22.2 innings of work with 24 strikeouts and just three walks.

At this point it isn’t known how long he will be out of the lineup, but given the nature of the injury Maiocco is not optimistic his ace will return this season.

“My guess is his season is more than likely over,” he said.  “We’ll know more after he sees an orthopedic specialist.”

If the injury does sideline Sanchez for the remainder of the season he could return next year.

“He will qualify for a medical redshirt,” Maiocco said.  “He’ll make the determination of what he wants to do.”

Sanchez was injured trying to cover home plate when a Merced runner scored on a passed ball.

The Cougars (1-2 CVC, 5-7 overall) draw the conference bye this week, but will return to Merced Thursday for a non-conference game with No. 4 ranked Sierra College (8-3) of Rocklin.

“It could work out O.K, for us,” Maiocco said.  “It gives us a chance to play somebody different, and the shock of not having Allen will have worn off.”

He’ll put the team through a couple of scrimmages.  The focus will be on identifying a replacement for Sanchez in the starting rotation.

The timing also might give the Cougars time to shake off Saturday’s loss.

“We wasted so many chances,” Maiocco said.  “We left the bases loaded in three innings.  We had the bases loaded once with nobody out and couldn’t score.  What made it harder to take was we had the middle of our lineup coming to bat more than once with the bases loaded and couldn’t get a hit.”

The 3-4-5 hitters finished 1-for-13 and one run batted in.

The No. 8 and 9 hitters – Corey Gilligan and Luis Trinidad – had two hits apiece.  One of Trinidad’s was a double – the team’s only extra base hit.
Anthony Uran was officially 0-for-1 but walked four times – twice with the bases loaded.

The Cougars fought back from a 7-2 deficit to score four runs in the top of the eighth, but it could have been an even bigger inning.

“We could have blown it open,” he said.  “After we had four runs in we still had the bases loaded with one out and didn’t score again.”
Merced came back in the bottom half of the inning and scored five runs on six hits, an error and a hit batter to put the game away.