Austin Pendergrass and Will Moore represent Taft in Kern County All-Star game win

On a hot and sunny day in Taft, Taft’s Austin Pendergrass and Will Moore joined several other players for one more baseball game this high school season. When the dust had settled it was the Gold team that pulled out a 9-7 victory over the Black team in the second annual Kern County All-Star game at the Taft College baseball field Saturday afternoon.

“It’s fun,” said Gold and Taft High coach Anthony Reed. “It’s an honor to be part of the game and the festivities. “Just to see so many guys enjoying the game.”

“It was enjoyable,” said Pendergrass. “It was a good experience to play with these guys one last time.

Pendergrass and Moore got the game going in the first inning.

“It was great to play on this caliber of a team,” said Moore.

In the top half of the inning, Pendergrass opened the Gold rally with a leadoff walk. After stealing second Pendergrass scored on Luis Martinez’s run scoring double.

“It meant a lot to me,” said Pendergrass on getting on base.

Moore had his turn in the bottom half of the first inning by retiring the side in order thanks in part to two strikeouts.

“I just took it as any other game,” said Moore. “I knew I got good stuff.”

The gold team nearly broke open the game in the bottom of the third inning. Matt Ladd of Bakersfield Christian led off the rally with a single up the middle before East Bakersfield’s Tim Billingsleu walked. Ladd went on to score on a passed ball with Billingsleu taking third.

Independence’s Chris Ransick added another walk to load the bases but the next guy after Independence’s Richard Garcia made a running catch.

Black got one of the runs back while breaking up a no hitter in the bottom of the third. Liberty’s Justin Nieto led off with a single and stolen base before taking third on a ground out. Nieto scored on a sacrifice fly to right field.

The gold team added to their lead in the top of the fifth inning when Centennial’s Andrew Hanson reached first on an infield error with one out before Ransick doubled him in. Ransick went on to take third on an overthrow with two outs.

Gold’s next rally came in the top of the sixth when Bakersfield’s Jacob Herrera reached first on an infield single with two outs. Eric Ontiveros followed with a run scoring single with Stockdale’s James Carroll chipping in with a run scoring bloop single to up the advantage to 5-1.

The Black team battled back in their half of the sixth. With one out Frontier’s Christian Deaton was hit by a pitch and Liberty’s Ross Puskarich walked. Deaton went on to score on an infield error on a stolen base by Puskarich. Puskarich scored on Medina’s triple to left field. Medina brought in the third run of the inning on a ground out one batter later.

Gold threatened to put the game away again in the top of the seventh when Wasco’s Austin Banducci and Centennial’s Chris Laurente each led off with a single. After Ransick walked to load the bases, Martinez cleared them with a double to left field. Martinez advanced to third on a groundout before scoring on a sacrifice fly to center field. The difference gave Gold a 9-4 advantage.

The Black team was not through. In their half of the seventh inning, Nieto led off with a double to left field. Thanks to a running play at shortstop for the first out,  Nieto taking third. Golden Valley’s Blessam Saldang extended the rally when he was hit by a pitch and stole second. Nieto brought in the first run of the inning on a sacrifice fly with Saldang scoring on a two base error by the Gold first baseman.

Medina helped the Black team score one more time in the bottom of the eighth with a single to left field. Medina stole second and third before scoring on a ground out.

The Black team nearly had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth by getting runners on first and third but the final batter struck out to end the game.

This will not be the last time Pendergrass will be playing on this field. He will be playing for the Taft College baseball team next year.

Meanwhile, Moore will be competing again for the Taft High baseball team next spring.

“It just shows I got to get better,” Moore said of the experience.