Taft College falls to College of the Sequoias

The beat goes on, and it’s one the Taft College baseball team can’t get out of its head.

For the fifth time in their last seven games the Cougars found themselves on the short of a one-run game following another 3-2 loss to College of the Sequoias in a rare Sunday afternoon game caused by the rainy weather.

COS swept the Cougars in a three-game Central Valley Conference series by scores of 4-3, 3-2 and 3-2.

The Cougars (4-11 overall, 0-6 CVC) have lost nine games by one run and can’t seem to find a way to fight out of a forgettable losing streak.

After starting the season 4-2, TC has dropped nine straight, including six in a row in conference play.

The task doesn’t get any easier this week.

TC opens another three-game CVC set in Fresno today.  The teams will play here on Thursday and finish up Saturday in Fresno.

Defending champion Fresno, COS and Merced are year-in and year-out the top teams in the conference and the Cougars get them consecutively.

Coach Vince Maiocco knows his team is playing well but can’t buy a break or get that clutch hit – like Sunday when they had runners at first and third with one out in the seventh trailing 3-2 and grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“With the exception of one game this season we have been right there,” he said.  “Our offense has let us down, but overall we’ve been playing good baseball.  This is really a good team.  We just haven’t been able to find a way to win.”

Maiocco said the coaches and players have tried various ways to turn things around.

”We even had one of those cum bayou moments.  It’s clear the players love Taft College, love the baseball program, love their teammates, and love their coaches. 

“The pain of losing is deep.  These are good kids.  They work hard and truly care.”

Maiocco said the team has no choice but to continue to find a way out of their funk.

“The thing we need to avoid is fearing that something bad is going to happen each time we go out there.  We don’t want to get into that ‘here we go again’ thing.”

The Cougars have gotten solid pitching but late-inning lapses have bit them, usually in the eighth or ninth.

It was the eighth last Thursday and the sixth Sunday when COS bunched four of their nine hits to push across two runs when the Cougars were leading 2-1.

Starting pitchers Kevin Little and Brandon Van Stone took the losses.

Little gave up two earned runs on five hits in 7.2 innings of work in Thursday’s 3-2 loss and Van Stone three earned runs on eight hits in Sunday’s 3-2 loss.

Roman Testani went 3-for-4 Thursday to pace the Cougars’ 8-hit attack.

On Sunday it was Kevin Rocha going 3-for-4 as the Cougars had 8 hits again

(Note: Freshman first baseman Chris Hopballe was the Northern California Player of the Week last week, the first time a Cougar has received the honor.  The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder from Las Vegas has shown power at the plate, good speed on the base paths and has played outstanding defense.)