College of the Sequoias comes back to win 4-3

The ninth inning jinx continues to bite the Taft College baseball team.

It happened again Tuesday when the Cougars lost their fourth straight Central Valley Conference game – this one at home to College of the Sequoias by a 4-3 score.

It marked the sixth time in the last nine games the Cougars have dropped a one-run game and the fourth time in that span they took a lead into the ninth.

It was the seventh loss in a row after starting the season 4-2.

They hope for better luck Saturday in the final game of the series.  First pitch at Cougar Field is at 1 p.m. – weather permitting.

In the series opener the Cougars rode Chris Hopballe’s three-run first-inning homer, Brandon Van Stone’s pitching and solid defense into the ninth.

TC was nursing a 3-2 lead but after Van Stone retired reliever Nick Risucci was greeted rather rudely in the ninth.

The Giants smacked him for two runs on three hits, two walks, a hit batter and a catcher’s interference.

Blake Edmondson moved in from centerfield to pitch the ninth for the Giants and set the Cougars down in order to earn his fifth save of the season.

In fact, the Cougars didn’t threaten much after the first when they got all their runs when Hopballe socked a 1-1 pitch over the left field fence.  After that the Cougars had just two more hits off Giant starter Dylan Lee, who improved his record to 4-0.

COS got to Van Stone in the fifth for two runs.

After a lead-off bloop single to left by Edmondson and a one-out double put two runners in scoring position an error sent the first COS run home.  Two more singles plated the second run but Cougar right fielder Matt Moorehead’s accurate throw nailed a runner at the plate to end the uprising.

In the ninth the Giants got a leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt, walk and two more singles to prolong TC’s misery.

TC’s only runs came when Dayton Kurian grounded a one-out single to right, Roman Testani followed with line drive single to left and Hopballe popped one over the fence.

After that Lee settled down, yielding just two more hits until retiring after eight innings.

The top of the order accounted for all five Cougar hits with leadoff hitter Travis Tessandori getting two.  The rest of the order went 0-for-15.

Van Stone was shaky at times but his defense turned two inning-ending double plays and threw two runners out at home plate.

He struck out five and walked only one batter.

Risucci took the loss to even his record at 2-2.  He had one strikeout and a walk.