Taft College freshman pitcher Brad Van Stone had one bad inning Tuesday but that was enough to let West Hills College defeat the Cougars 5-1 in a Central Valley Conference game played in Coalinga.
After giving up a single in the first inning, the Falcons combined five singles and an error into five runs (three earned) in the second inning.
After that, the freshman from Henderson, Nev. held the Falcons hitless the rest of the way.
In fact, West Hills had just two base runners – both on infield errors.
Van Stone struck out three and did not walk a batter.
Meanwhile, his teammates continued to struggle at the plate with just four hits – one in the first and three in the second when the Cougars scored their lone run off Falcon starter Justin Soma, who came out with two out and the bases loaded.
Relievers Brad Rolff and Kyle Rasmussen held the Cougars hitless the rest of the way.
TC suffered an unusual circumstance in the first inning.
They got the first three batters on base on back-to-back walks and a single, but ended up going 3-up and 3-down.
The literally ran themselves out of a rally. Two were picked off and a third cut down at the plate.
Josh Roelofs, Michael Vaquera, Matt Moorhead and Luis Trinidad had the Cougar hits. Trinidad drove in Vaquera with TC’s lone run with a single to center in the second.
Vaquera and Moorehead had two-out back-to-back singles, Trinidad then singled and Shane Sudsbury walked to load the bases but a fly ball to center ended the threat.
After that the Cougars had just four base runners – two on hit batters and two on walks.
With the win, the Falcons moved into a second place tie with Merced – both teams at 8-5.
The Cougars dropped into a tie for last place with Reedley – both at 4-9.
Defending champion Fresno City College is comfortably atop the heap at 11-2.
TC travels to Coalinga again Saturday to finish off the three-game set and will host Merced Tuesday at 2 p.m.