Taft College's baseball team enters Central Valley Conference action today on a sour note after getting swept last weekend in a three-game home series against Monterey Peninsula College.
TC travels to Visalia to begin a three-game set with College of the Sequoias – weather permitting. The forecast calls for a cold, fast moving storm to bring rain and snow to the central valley.
The teams are scheduled to play in Taft on Thursday and wrap up the series Saturday in Visalia.
The scores against Monterey: 10-8, 9-7 and 10-6.
The silver lining: Taft bats came alive after a weak hitting performance a week earlier when the team lost two of three games. The Cougars scored 21 runs after getting only 19 in the first seven games.
The bad news: pitching and defense, elements that had been solid in the early season going, failed.
Cougar pitchers – nine of them – gave up 29 runs (21 earned) on 36 hits.
To complicate matters, the Cougars committed nine errors in the three games. In the previous seven they had only six.
"Our hitting was great," said head coach Vince Maiocco. "Our pitching took a dump and our defense was horrible. If you had told me before we played that we would get 21 hits, I'd be thinking: 'We're gonna sweep this series."
Travis Tessandori continued swinging his hot streak as the team's leadoff hitter. The 5-9, 160-pound freshman outfielder from Tehachapi went 6-for-12, scored five times and drove in a run.
"Tessandori has been a real bright spot for us," Maiocco said.
No. 2 hitter Luis Trinidad and designated hitter Dayton Kurian both went 4-for-10, including a double. Kurian drove in two runs and Trinidad one.
Josh Roelofs came off the bench to go 3-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs.
Jossaiah Raval cracked a line-drive homer in the sixth inning of the first game to tie the score at 8, but the Cougars saw Monterey come back with two walks, a sacrifice and two-run single in the ninth to win it.
Sophomore right-hander Allan Sanchez came in with a 1.12 ERA when he started game two but had a rough outing. He gave up five earned runs on 11 hits in his six innings of work.
The CVC – typically dominated by Fresno and Sequoias – could be better balanced this year based on non-conference records.
They look like this: Porterville 4-3, Fresno 5-4, Sequoias 4-5, Merced and Reedley 3-5, Taft 3-6-1 and West Hills 2-5.
"Most everybody has three or four wins," Maiocco said. "Maybe conference is what we need right now."
He's worried about his pitching staff after playing three games on the eve of conference play.
Page 2 of 2 - "Right off the bat you're looking at going to your bullpen," he said. "You can only give your Tuesday (conference) starter as few innings, and you probably shouldn't throw him at all. I'll have to rethink things when I put next year's schedule together."