Taft College Cougars Men's Baseball



About Taft College Baseball

Vince Maiocco begins his 11th season as the Cougars head baseball coach. Maiocco came to Taft College in 2001 and served as an assistant coach until 2004.  Before coming to Taft College; he coached at Gavilan College in 2001, Delano High School in 2000, and Porterville College in 1999. Maiocco spent the most of his coaching career at College of the Siskiyous from 1988-1998.

The Cougar baseball program has a rich history of developing players for the professional and 4-year collegiate level of baseball. The vast majority of Taft College's graduating sophomores have went on to play at the 4-year collegiate and professional level. It is the coaching staff's obligation to develop players to play at the 4-year collegiate or professional level.

The philosophy of Taft College Baseball is: "Take the academic aspect of college serious, maintain an image on and off the field that sheds a positive light on Taft College, and work hard while practicing and playing the game of baseball!"






Taft @ Reedley College
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 26, 2015

The Cougars lost their second straight at Reedley College yesterday.  They jumped to a quick one run lead in the top of the first inning off of a sac fly from Chris Hopballe scoring Austin Pendergrass but Reedley responded in the 3rd with a 5 run inning.

Robby Brewster was the pitcher for the Cougars throwing 5 innings.  He gave up 7 hits, 5 earned runs, and struck out 3.  Kendal Daniels, Alfred Souza, Blake Betts and Brett Haney followed his performance.  They collectively gave up 4 hits, 3 runs and had only 1 strikeout. 

The Cougar offence was only able to scratch across 1 run compared to Reedley’s 11 hits and 8 runs.  The Cougars are now 10-4 this spring and 3-2 in CVC play.  They hope to finish the 3 game series with a win on Saturday when they host Reedley at 1:00 pm on Cougar Field.


Reedley Pitchers Continue to Dominate Cougars
Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
February 26, 2015

Reedley College pitchers continue to throttle Taft College hitters.

For the second time this week, the Cougars couldn’t figure out a Tiger pitcher and on

Thursday lost an 8-1 Central Valley Conference game.

On Tuesday the Tigers thumped Taft 8-2 on a three-hit, complete game performance by Kyle Dunnegan.

This time McKay McNair, a 6-2, 235-pound sophomore from Clovis, limited the Cougars to an unearned run on three hits in his eight innings of work.  He improved his record to 2-1. 

McNair spotted the Cougars their only run in the first inning on a hit, error and sacrifice fly from Chris Hopballe, his 12th RBI of the season.

McNair’s teammates jumped on Cougar starter Robby Brewster for five runs on six hits in the third inning.  The first five batters did all the damage with two singles, an RBI double, an RBI single and a three-run homer by designated hitter Josh Montelongo.

Nick Kawano, Keith Tatum, Jeff Gilstrap and Logan Mace had TC’s hits.  Tatum’s was a triple.

The Cougars will try to keep from getting swept when the teams meet in Taft Saturday at 1 p.m. in the finale of the three-game series.

Records: Reedley (2-3 CVC, 5-9 overall), Taft (3-2 CVC, 10-4 overall).


Cougars Looking to get their Mojo Back
Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
February 25, 2015

Taft College’s usually prolific hitting was silenced Tuesday when Reedley College ace Kyle Dunnegan pitched a complete-game three hitter and Tiger batters roughed up four Cougar pitchers for 17 hits en route to an 8-2 victory at Cougar Field.

The top of Reedley’s order wore out Cougar pitching.

The first four batters went 13 for 20 including three doubles and drove in half of the Tiger runs.

By contrast, Taft’s top four hitters went 2-for-12 against Dunnegan.  The rest of the lineup managed just a single base hit.  All were singles.

Reedley got to Cougar ace Nick Risucci for four runs – two of them unearned -- on four hits in the first inning.  It was all the Tigers really needed.

The Cougars will try to reverse fortunes Saturday when the teams meet at Cougar Field at 1 p.m. for the finale of the three-game Central Valley Conference series.

They played yesterday in Reedley.  Log on to taftmidwaydriller.com for the details.

Tuesday’s thumping was the Cougars’ first CVC loss after starting the league season 3-0. 

It also ended a seven-game Cougar winning streak.

Taft broke the shutout with two runs in the seventh.

Nick Kawano opened the inning with a single and moved up when Keith Tatum was safe on an infield error.  Fabian Gutierrez drove in Kawano with a single that sent Tatum to third. 

Kade Erickson hit into a groundout that scored Tatum with an unearned run.

Kevin Cordero had the other Cougar hit.

Risucci (2-1) gave up four runs on six hits in his three innings of work striking out one and walking none.

Bryan Sanchez gave up two runs on five hits in an inning and two-thirds.  He struck out two and walked none.

Blake Betts also worked an inning and two-thirds.  He gave up a run on a hit and a walk.

Caleb Newman finished up, giving up a run on five hits.  He struck out one and walked one.

Team records: Reedley 1-3 CVC, 4-9 overall, Taft 3-1 CVC, 10-3 overall.


Taft @ Reedley College
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 24, 2015

Taft loses their first game in CVC play on Tuesday to Reedley College.  Reedley’s starting pitcher went all 9 innings allowing 2 runs as Reedley scores 8 to win their first conference game.

Nick Risucci started for the Cougars and went 3 innings giving up 2 earned runs.  Bryan Sanchez, Blake Betts and Caleb Newman followed his performance.  Reedley had 17 hits on the day and scored 6 earned runs.

The Cougars hit the ball hard but didn’t have much to show for with only 3 hits.  Fabian Gutierrez and Kade Erickson had RBI’s. 

Kevin Cordero started in left field but left the game after diving for a ball resulting in an injury. The Cougars hope to have him back soon.  He is hitting .414 with an on base percentage of .667.  Nick Kawano entered the game to replace him and had one hit.

The Cougars lost 8-2 and are now 10-3 on the spring and 3-1 in CVC play.  They will travel to Reedley on Thursday to play game 2 of the series and will be back home on Saturday for game 3.


Cougars go Extra Innings for CVC Sweep
Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
February 22, 2015

COALINGA – Pitchers restored order Saturday after hitters dominated the first two games of the Taft College-West Hills Central Valley Conference baseball series.

The Cougars had to go 12 innings before eking out a 4-3 victory that gave them a sweep of the first series.

In the first two games the Cougars scored 26 runs on 36 hits in racking up 12-6 and 14-5 wins.

But on Saturday Braxton Lorenzini silenced the TC bats.  He gave up just two hits and struck out 12 Cougars before coming out with two outs in the seventh.

“We were very fortunate to get a win (Saturday),” said Cougar coach Vince Maiocco.  “He (Lorenzini) is legit.  He’s definitely the best arm we’ve seen this season.”

Reedley next
The Cougars (3-0 CVC, 10-2 overall) will take a seven-game winning streak into this week’s conference series against Reedley College (0-3 CVC, 3-9 overall) that begins today at Cougar Field at 2 o’clock.  Game 2 is at Reedley on Thursday and the series finishes up Saturday in Taft at 1. 

West Hills (0-3 CVC, 3-9 overall) took a 2-0 lead into the ninth when the Cougars pushed over two runs to force overtime.

The rally began when Chris Hopballe was hit by a pitch and moved up on Keith Tatum’s single to left.  It was just TC’s third hit of the game.

Shortstop Fabian Gutierrez grounded into a force play at second that sent Hopballe to third. 

Third baseman Jeff Gilstrap cracked a double that got Hopballe home with the first Cougar run, but Gutierrez was thrown out at home trying to score on the play.

Kevin Cordero got aboard on an infield error that sent Gilstrap to third and pinch-hitter Nick Kawano drilled a single to tie the game.

“Nick had a huge pinch hit for us,” Maiocco said.

In the top of the 12th the Cougars loaded the bases on two hit batters and Braxton Argyle’s single.  An infield error scored a run and Kade Erickson drove in another with a single.
The Cougars still had the bases loaded with no outs but reliever Shawn Kelly struck out Hopballe and got Rey Figueroa to hit into an inning-ending double play.

West Hills scratched out a run in the bottom of the inning on an error, stolen base and RBI single but Kendal Daniels quieted the uprising.

Rogers solid
Lorenzini’s performance tended to overshadow a solid outing from Cougar starter Matt Rogers, who threw eight innings, allowing two runs on seven hits.

“Matt threw a great game,” Maiocco said.  “He didn’t any strikeouts like he usually does, but he was very efficient with his pitches.

After Alfred Souza worked the ninth, Daniels came on to get the save and preserve the win.  He struck out six batters in three innings, allowed one hit and did not walk a batter.

Thursday game
In the second game of the series, played in Taft, the Cougars scored seven times in their first two at-bats and cruised to a 14-5 victory.

Hopballe, a sophomore first baseman from Las Vegas, drove in three runs with a single and homer and Keith Tatum, Jeff Gilstrap and Kevin Cordero all had two hits apiece.

TC jumped on West Hills starter Dakota Stanek (1-3) for five runs in the first inning on a walk, RBI singles by Tatum and Gilstrap and a two-run double by Cordero, who scored the fifth run by stealing home.  The rally also took advantage of two errors.

Hopballe lined a 2-0 pitch over the left field fence in the second to give the Cougars a 7-1 lead.  It was his third homer of the season.

Freshman Robby Brewster got his second win of the season with seven innings of work. 

He allowed an earned run on four hits, struck out nine and walked one.

West Hills bunched four runs in the eighth on four hits, a walk and an error.

Cordero and Michael Dagg each had a double, Hopballe was 2-for-3 and Kawano, Jose Roelofs and Austin Pendergrass had base hits.

CVC Standings
Taft 3-0 (10-2)
Fresno 3-0 (8-2)
Merced 3-0 (8-4)
COS 0-0 (5-5)
Reedley 0-3 (3-9)
West Hills (0-3, 3-9)
Porterville 0-3 (3-10)


Taft @ West Hills College
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 21, 2015

The Taft College Cougars traveled to Coalinga on Saturday to play West Hills in their third matchup of the week.  West Hills was hungry for their first win putting up 2 runs through 9 innings and shutting out the Cougar offence until the top of the 9th.

Chris Hopballe and Fabian Gutierrez got the top of the 9th inning going by getting on base bringing up Jeff Gilstrap.  Gilstrap hit a double scoring Hopballe but Gutierrez was thrown out attempting to score.  This put the Cougars down by one run. Nick Kawano stepped in to hit with a runner in scoring position.  He knocked a line drive to left scoring Gilstrap to even up the game.

West Hills was able to get one more run across the board.  Michael Dagg stepped to the plate in the top of the 12th with bases loaded and hit the ball to the third basemen who threw to home.  The catcher caught the ball and looked to stop any other runners from advancing thinking he made the lead out at home.  The umpire called Logan Mace safe because the catcher had positioned himself a foot in front of the plate before catching the ball.  Kade Erickson singled bringing in Nick Kawano making the score 4-3. 

Matt Rogers pitching performance was what allowed the Cougars to stay in this game.  He threw 8 innings giving up 7 hits and only 2 earned runs.  Alfred Souza went 1 inning striking out 1 batter following Rogers. Kendal Daniels was credited with the win coming in for the last 3 innings striking out 6 and giving up only 1 hit.

The final score was 4-3 completing the sweep for Taft College.

The Cougars now have a 10-3 record and are 3-0 in CVC play.  They are the first Northern California team to reach 10 wins this spring.  They play a 3 game series against Reedley College this upcoming week.


Cougars Rout West Hills 14-5
Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
February 19, 2015

Taft College improved to 2-0 in the Central Valley Conference (9-2 overall) Thursday afternoon by pounding out 13 hits in a 14-5 victory over visiting West Hills-Coalinga.

The Cougars will try to sweep the series Saturday when the teams meet in Coalinga at 1 p.m.

Sophomore first baseman Chris Hopballe drove in three runs with a single and homer and Keith Tatum, Jeff Gilstrap and Kevin Cordero all had two hits apiece.

TC jumped on West Hills starter Dakota Stanek (1-3) for five runs in the first inning on a walk, RBI singles by Tatum and Gilstrap and a two-run double by Cordero, who scored the fifth run by stealing home.  The rally also took advantage of two errors.

Hopballe lined a 2-0 pitch over the left field fence in the second to give the Cougars a 7-1 lead.  It was his third homer of the season.

Freshman Robby Brewster got his second win of the season with seven innings of work. 

He allowed an earned run on four hits, struck out nine and walked one.


Taft @ West Hills College
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 19, 2015

West Hills College traveled to Taft on Thursday to take on the Cougars in the 2nd CVC game of the season.  Robby Brewster took the mound throwing 7 innings giving up only 4 hits and struck out 9.

West Hills jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the first after Brewster gave up his only walk of the day.  The Cougar offence didn’t take long to respond.  Keith Tatum and Jeff Gilstrap both had RBI singles and Kevin Cordero doubled bringing in Tatum and Gilstrap.  The 1st inning ended with a score of 5-1.

Chris Hopballe stays hot hitting his 3rd homerun of the year bringing in Kade Erickson.  Hopballe had 2 hits and 3 RBI’s on the day.

Rickey Sotille entered the game in the 7th and hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Kevin Rocha.  Later in the inning Michael Dagg doubled bringing in Kevin Cordero and Kyle Wedel. 

Brewster came out in the 7th inning after giving up only 1 run.  Hank Johnson, Brett Haney and Eric Evans followed his performance. 

Chris Hopballe, Keith Tatum, Jeffrey Gilstrap and Kevin Cordero each collect 2 hits for the Cougars.  Michael Dagg, Kyle Wedel, Nick Kawano, Josh Roelofs and Rickey Sottile all had RBI’s in the win.  

The Cougars are 9-2 on the year and 2-0 in CVC play. They will travel to West Hills to finish the 3 game series this Saturday.


Cougars Open CVC Campagne with 23 Hit Performance
Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
February 18, 2015

COALINGA – Taft College sprayed base hits all over Keith Scrivner Field here Tuesday as the Cougars kicked off the Central Valley Conference baseball season with a 12-6 win over West Hills College.

TC banged 23 hits – 21 singles, a double and a triple – with four players collecting four hits apiece.

Freshman shortstop Fabian Gutierrez smacked a triple and three singles, designated hitter Josh Roelofs a double and three singles and first baseman Chris Hopballe and centerfielder Austin Pendergrass four singles each.  Hopballe drove in two runs and

Pendergrass, a freshman from Taft High, one.

Right fielder Kade Erickson went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs and leadoff hitter Michael Dagg had two hits, a walk and an RBI.

The Cougars scored five runs in the first and four in the second before adding two in the fourth for an 11-0 lead before the Falcons bunched four runs in the sixth. 

Roelofs had a two-run double in the first inning and Gutierrez a two-run triple in the second.

The bottom of the order did most of the damage for the Cougars.

The 7-through-9 hitters – Erickson, Roelofs and Pendergrass – went 11-for-16 and drove in four runs.  Hitters 1-through-4 went 7-for-21.

Nick Risucci started for the Cougars on the mound and earned his second win.  He pitched five shutout innings before giving up four runs in the sixth.  He struck out two and walked one.

Bryan Sanchez, Kendal Daniels, Logan Mace, Blake Betts and Caleb Newman finished up.  Cougar hurlers combined for seven strikeouts and just two walks, but gave up 13 hits.

West Hills starter Joe Cochran got a rough greeting.  He gave up nine earned runs on nine hits, walked three and struck out two in an inning and two-thirds.

Catcher Keith Tatum and third baseman Jeff Gilstrap also had base hits.

With all those base runners, TC hit into three double plays and stranded 17 runners.  West Hills left nine on base.

Neither team committed an error.
The Cougars will make another trip to Coalinga Saturday to finish the three-game series. 

They played Thursday in Taft.  Check taftmidwaydriller.com for information on that game.

Next week the Cougars will host two of their three games against Reedley College.

Other conference opening day scores: Merced 15, Porterville 3; Fresno 7, Reedley 3.  Sequoias drew the bye but will play two non-conference games at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento today and Saturday.


Taft @ West Hills College
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 17, 2015

After completing the pre season with a 7-2 record the Cougars jumped into Central Valley Conference against West Hills College.  They made their presence known in the top of the first inning jumping to a quick 5-0 lead with singles by Fabian Gutierrez, Jeff Gilstrap and Kade Erickson.  Josh Roelofs doubled before the inning concluded.

Taft used 6 pitchers in this game including Nick Risucci who started.  He pitched 5.2 innings giving up 9 hits, 4 runs and struck out 4.  Bryan Sanchez, Kendal Daniels, Logan Mace, Blake Betts and Caleb Newman finished off West Hill’s offensive game. 

Fabian Gutierrez, Chris Hopballe, Josh Roelofs and Austin Pendergrass each collect 4 hits apiece and Kade Erickson goes 3x4 in Taft College's 12-6 win vs. West Hills College. The Cougars are now 8-2 overall and 1-0 in the Central Valley Conference and will continue their 3-game series with the Falcons this Thursday at 2 in Taft at Cougar Field.


TC Opens CVC Season
by Dennis McCall
February 17, 2015

After sweeping its last three-game non-conference series the Taft College baseball team has some bounce in its step heading into Central Valley Conference play today.

The Cougars finished the pre-conference grind at 7-2, one of the best starts in recent history, and hope to keep the trend going when they travel to Coalinga today to begin a three-game series against West Hills College.

The teams will play at Cougar Field Thursday at 2 p.m. and finish the series on Saturday at Coalinga.

“I’ve been coaching here since 2002 and I think this is the best start we’ve ever had,” said head coach Vince Maiocco.  “It’s a great start and gives us a lot of confidence heading into conference.”

The Cougars capped the nine-game conference tune-up – all of them at home – by sweeping a doubleheader from Monterey Peninsula, 10-3 and 8-7, on Friday and building up a 10-0 lead before capping the series with a 12-5 win over Cerro Coso on Saturday.

“I like the way we’re winning,” Maiocco said.  “We’re getting some clutch hits.  We’re finding ways to win.  That’s a good sign.  Our guys are battling until the final out.”

He was especially pleased with the come-from-behind 8-7 win over Monterey in the second game of Friday’s twin bill.

The Cougars trailed 7-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh.  They scored three to get close and three more in the eighth to win it.

Eric Evans shut out the Lobos in the ninth to preserve the win.

What gives Maiocco an extra measure of confidence heading into CVC battles is his bullpen.

“The one common denominator we’ve had so far is our relief pitching,” he said.  “Our bullpen has done a phenomenal job.”

Talent and depth have allowed Maiocco to bring in hurlers for situational pitching.

“We’re able to bring in a right-hander to pitch to a right-hander and a lefty to pitch to a left-handed batter.  It’s nice to have that option.”

The statistics bear that out. 
A dozen Cougar hurlers saw action in the series.

No. 1 starter Nick Risucci will throw the league opener today and hopes to bounce back after a rough outing in the 8-7 win over Monterey Friday.

After retiring the first seven batters he faced, Risucci gave up two singles and a walk but got out of the third without allowing a run.

Then he gave up six runs (5 earned) on seven hits (2 of them homers) in the fourth before giving way to Alfred Souza, one of the nine relievers Maiocco used.

As the conference campaign begins Fresno (5-2), Merced (5-4) and Sequoias (4-4) are expected to battle it out for conference supremacy.  In preseason northern California rankings, Sequoias was No. 4, Fresno No. 6, Merced No. 13 and Taft No. 19.

“It’s the same cast of characters,” Maiocco said.  “The MVP of the conference last year is back at Merced.  Fresno and COS are always loaded.”

The Cougars hope to crash the party.

HITTING
Jeff Gilstrap: 4-for-11, 6 RBI, double
Keith Tatum: 5-for-7, 2 RBI, double, 2 runs, 3 BB
Michael Dagg: 4-for-9, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 2 runs
Nick Kawano: 3-for-8, double, 3 runs
Chris Hopballe: 3-run homer, 3 walks
Rey Figueroa: 3-for-9, 2 runs
PITCHING
Robby Brewster: 6.0 inn. 2 ER, 6 H, 4 SO, 1 BB
Matt Rogers: 6.2 inn. 1 ER, 8 H, 5 SO, 1 BB
Eric Evans: save (his 2nd)


Taft vs Cerro Coso
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 14, 2015

Matt Rogers goes 6 2/3 innings, only allows 1 earned run and picks up his 2nd win on the year.  Alfred Souza, Kendal Daniels and Caleb Newman followed his performance. 

The scoring for the Cougars started in the bottom of the second when Jeff Gilstrap singled to score Keith Tatum who singled earlier in the inning.  Austin Pendergrass and Rick Sotille walked bringing up Michael Dagg who singled to bring in Gilstrap and Pendergrass. 

The Cougars had a big 5 run inning in the 4th.  Tatum doubled bringing in Dagg and Josh Roelofs.  Rey Figueroa singled bringing in Tatum and Gilstrap doubled to clear the bases. 

Kyle Wedel entered the game and hit a double to score Figueroa and Kevin Rocha in a clutch situation.

Coach Maiocco is pleased with his bullpen pitchers coming into the game and dominating.  He believes this will give the Cougars an edge going into CVC play.

Third baseman Jeff Gilstrap goes 3x3 with 4 RBI as the Cougars beat Cerro Coso College 12-5. 

Dagg, Roeloefs, Tatum, Figueroa and Wedel recorded RBI’s while Tatum and Wedel both doubled in the victory.

The Cougars are now 7-2 on the season and start CVC play Tuesday at West Hills College in Coalinga.


Taft vs Monterey Peninsula DH
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 13, 2015

Game 2:
The Cougars took full advantage of their bullpen using 7 pitchers in this 9-inning comeback victory.  Nick Risucci started and went 3.1 innings giving up 7 hits, 5 earned runs and had 2 strikeouts.  Alfred Souza, Kendal Daniels, Logan Mace, Hank Johnson, Blake Betts (W) and Eric Evan’s followed his performance.

The scoring started early for the Cougars as they jumped to an early 1 run lead in the first.  Michael Dagg lead off with a walk and was later brought in to score off of a Fabian Gutierrez single.  

Both sides struggled to score until the bottom of the 4th when Monterey’s Boyle homered to start a 6 run inning.  They tacked on one more run in the 5th making the score 7-1.

Kade Erickson singled to get the bottom of the 5th inning going.  Dagg was hit by a pitch-putting runners on first and second.  Kawano hit into a fielder’s choice advancing Erickson to 3rd and leaving him on 1st.  Fabian Gutierrez singled bringing in Dagg making it 7-2. 

Erickson singled again to start the bottom of the 7th for the Cougars.  Kawano and Chris Hopballe walked loading up the bases.  Gutierrez grounded out to the pitcher bringing in one run leaving runners on second and third.  Jeff Gilstrap singled to center bringing in 2 runs before the inning ended. 

Kevin Cordero led off the 8th inning bringing up Blake Betts.  Betts belted a ball over the center fielders head scoring Cordero and shifting the momentum.  Betts attempted to advance to 3rd base on the throw home and forced an overthrow bringing him in to score as well.  Dagg singled and moved to scoring position for Gutierrez to bring him in for the go ahead run. 

Evans shut out the 9th on the mound and the Cougars pulled off the 8-7 victory.

Game 1:
Robby Brewster took the mound for the Cougars against Monterey in the first game of Friday’s double-header.  Brewster got the win after facing 27 batters through 6 innings giving up 9 hits, 2 earned runs, and struck out 4.  Alfred Souza, Bryan Sanchez, and Brett Haney threw one inning following his performance.

The scoring didn’t start for the Cougars until a 5 run inning in the bottom of the fourth.  Keith Tatum lead off the inning getting hit by the pitch, Fabian Gutierrez singled and Jeff Gilstrap walked to load up the bases.  Austin Pendergrass was hit by a pitch bringing in one run followed by a walk from Michael Dagg to score another. 

Chris Hopballe hit a homerun in the 6th bringing in Nick Kawano and Dagg.  Rey Figueroa singled to bring in Tatum later in the inning.

Nick Kawano (2B) and Chris Hopballe (HR) recorded extra base hits.  Michael Dagg, Chris Hopballe, Kyle Wedel, Rey Figueroa and Austin Pendergrass had RBI’s.

The Cougars won 10-3.


Taft vs Folsom Lake
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 7, 2015

Taft bounced back after leaving the field with a bitter taste on Friday.  It was a rainy morning for the Cougars but after hours of rain and numerous bags of Diamond Dry it was time to play ball.

Matt Rogers took the mound for the Cougars throwing 7 innings striking out 9 hitters, giving up only 3 hits and 1 earned run.  Matt’s performance was followed by Caleb Newman and Eric Evans who both threw one inning.  Evans had 2 strikeouts.

Cougars jumped to an early lead in the bottom of the first after Chris Hopballe doubled to bring in Michael Dagg and Nick Kawano.  Keith Tatum grounded out to shortstop bringing in Kawano before the inning ended.

Gilstrap walked to start the bottom of the second.  Dagg doubled to bring in Austin Pendergrass and Gilstrap putting them up 4-0.

Fabian Gutierrez and Gilstrap both singled to start the bottom of the 3rd.  Pendergrass singled bringing in Gutierrez and advancing Gilstrap to 3rd.  Dagg stepped to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly to score Gilstrap.  Later in the inning Kawano singled moving Pendergrass around the bases.  Hopballe singled bringing in Pendergrass.  Keith Tatum doubled to bring in Kawano. 

Kade Erickson reached first on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the fourth.  Pendergrass singled advancing Erickson to scoring position for the Cougars.  Dagg singled bringing in Erickson and moving Pendergrass to 3rd.  Kawano hit a sacrifice fly to center field bringing in Pendergrass. Gutierrez tripled scoring 2 runs before the 7 run inning was over. 

A pitch hit Rickey Sottile after entering the game getting the bottom of the 5th going.  Sottile was moved over by Dagg.  Kevin Cordero entered the game and grounded out to shortstop bringing in Sottile. 

The Cougars offence responded to Roger’s shutout innings on the mound.  They had a total of 14 hits and 15 RBI’s.  Dagg, Gutierrez, Tatum and Hopballe (2) had extra base hits.  RBI’s were recorded by Dagg (3), Kawano, Cordero, Hopballe (2), Tatum (5), Gutierrez (2) and Pendergrass.  Dagg and Kawano both had a sacrifice fly.


Taft vs Siskiyous
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 6, 2015

The Cougars showed up on Friday looking to beat College of the Siskiyous again after polishing off the win 3-2 the day before. 

Robby Brewster pitched 6.1 innings giving up 10 hits and 3 earned runs.  Alfred Souza, Blake Betts, Bryan Sanchez, Kendal Daniels, Hank Johnson and Brett Haney followed Brewster’s performance.  Coach Maiocco likes his matchups with certain pitchers against specific offensive hitters so he likes to utilize the staff’s depth.

Siskiyous started their scoring with a triple by Higgs bringing in Neese.  Higgs ended up crossing home on a wild pitch.  The cougars struggled defensively, which cost them runs in return. 

Michael Dagg singled in the bottom of the 5th to bring in Braxton Argyle making the score 2-1.  Santiago responded for Siskiyous in the top of the 6th hitting in Clack.  Chris Hopballe’s homerun in the bottom of the eighth brought life back to the Cougars offense but they could not regain the lead.

Taft lost to Siskiyous 6-3.   Keith Tatum (2B) and Chris Hopballe (HR) recorded extra base hits. Michael Dagg (1) and Hopballe (1) had RBI’s.


Taft vs Siskiyous
by Jeff Gilstrap
February 5, 2015

The Cougars played behind last weeks Northern California Player of the Week, Nick Risucci against College of the Siskiyous Thursday afternoon. Rissuci gave up only one hit in his previous outing against Feather River.

The offensive scoring for the Cougars was started by Jeff Gilstrap who hit a one run homerun in the bottom of the second inning. Siskiyous was quick to respond in the 3rd putting one run on the board. They were able to bring one more run across in the top of the 5th leaving the Cougars trailing 2-1.

Rissuci threw 6 innings giving up 6 hits and 2 earned runs. Alfred Souza came in and shut down 3 batters in the 7th, giving the Cougars the momentum going into the bottom half of the inning.

Chris Hopballe and Keith Tatum got the inning going with 2 walks. Runners were on 1st and 2nd for shortstop Fabian Gutierrez who singled to bring in Hopballe to even the score. Jeff Gilstrap hit a sacrifice fly to left field bringing in Tatum to put the Cougars up by 1.

Kendal Daniels and Eric Evans shut down the Siskiyous offence for the remainder of the game.

The final score was 3-2 making the Cougars record 3-1. Nick Kawano, Chris Hopballe, Josh Roelofs, and Austin Pendergrass all had stolen bases. Extra base hits were credited to Josh Roelofs (2B) and Gilstrap (HR).  RBI’s were recorded by Fabian Gutierrez (1) and Jeff Gilstrap (2).

The Cougars are set to take on Siskiyous again Friday morning at 10:30.


Cougars Host 3 Games This Week, Get Ready for Conference
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
February 7, 2015

Taft College has one more three-game series to get ready for Central Valley Conference baseball action, and after going 2-and-1 in the first two the Cougars are hoping for a sweep this time.

“In baseball you will take two wins out of three anytime, and we did that,” said head coach Vince Maiocco.  “But if you have an opportunity to be 3-for-3 you need to work hard for that.  I really like the start we’re off to, but we need to be more consistent.”

That’s the team goal when Monterrey Peninsula College (1-5) comes to town Friday for a 10:30 a.m. doubleheader at Cougar Field.  On Saturday the Cougars will host Cerro Coso College (3-3) of Ridgecrest in a single game at 1 p.m.

Then it’s on to conference wars beginning Feb. 17 at West Hills College in Coalinga.

Last week the Cougars split a pair with College of the Siskiyous – winning 3-2 with a two-run seventh inning rally and losing 6-3 before closing things out on a rainy Saturday by scoring early and often in a 17-4 rout of Folsom Lake College.

“Siskiyous is significantly better this year,” Maiocco said.  “In the game we lost, our hitters just didn’t have a good approach against their pitcher.  We didn’t get good swings.”

Maiocco formerly coached at Siskiyous and the Eagles’ head coach, Billy Hefflinger, played for Maiocco.

Siskiyous touched seven Cougar pitchers for 14 hits in the Eagles’ 6-3 win.

The Cougars got good pitching, though, in games one and three.

Nick Risucci, who was the northern California Pitcher-of-the-Week after his season-opening one-hit gem against Solano College, worked six strong innings.  He gave up two earned runs on six hits, struck out three and walked one.

One of he hits he gave up was a solo homer to Robert Higgs, his former teammate at Bonanza High in Las Vegas.

“He’s hit me pretty well for the last five or six years,” Risucci said.  “He owns me.”
Risucci left the game in the sixth trailing 2-1 but the Cougars scored two runs in the seventh for the win.
First baseman Chris Hopballe worked a 1-out walk and promptly stole second.  Catcher Keith Tatum also drew a walk and shortstop Fabian Gutierrez’s line drive single scored Hopballe.

A wild pitch put Tatum on third, and he scored what proved to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of third baseman Jeff Gilstrap.

The Cougars also got a solid pitching performance from freshman left-hander Matt Rogers, who worked seven innings in the romp over Folsom Lake, giving up an earned run on three hits, striking out nine and walking none.

Cougar pitchers walked just two batters over the three games and struck out 23.

“Matt did a nice job of pitching,” Maiocco said.  “Overall, our pitching has been pretty good.”

Rogers’ performance was overshadowed a bit by the Cougars’ hitting display.

TC scored twice in the first and second, put up five runs in the third and followed that with a seven-run fourth to put the game out of sight at 16 zip.

The Cougars had 14 hits and took advantage of five Folsom errors.

Tatum drove in five runs and Hopballe and leadoff hitter Michael Dagg plated three runs. 

The Cougars smacked a triple (Gutierrez) and four doubles (Hopballe 2, Dagg and Tatum.

Hopballe, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore from Las Vegas, went 6-for-9 in the series with three runs batted in, two doubles, and scored three times.

Dagg had five hits and drove in five runs, Tatum was 3-for-8 with five RBIs and a double, Gutierrez had a triple, drove in three runs and scored twice, Gilstrap was 3-for-9 with two RBIs and three runs scored, and Nick Kawano had three hits, drove in a run and scored once.


Taft Falls to Barstow
by Jeff Gilstrap
January 31, 2015

The Cougars jumped to an early lead against Barstow in the 1st inning with a hit from Keith Tatum bringing in Michael Dagg.  They gave up the lead in the 4th and could not regain control of the game.
 
Matt Rogers was given the loss with 4 innings pitched and two earned runs given up.  It was a rough defensive outing for the Cougars with 3 fielding errors on the day.

Keith Tatum and Jeff Gilstrap recorded extra base hits.  Rey Figueroa and Tatum were credited with RBI’s.

It was a humbling loss for the Cougars but they plan to bounce back against College of The Siskiyous and Folsom Lake this upcoming weekend.


Cougars on the Prowl
by Jeff Gilstrap
January 30, 2015

The Cougars showed up Saturday afternoon hungry for a win. They took the field against the number 5 ranked Feather River in a game that will be remembered for a long time.

Robby Brewster stepped up to the challenge throwing 6 innings and giving up only one run while Feather River’s O’Keeffe Hall threw six innings giving up 0 runs. 

The game went scoreless until the 6th inning when Michael Sanderson of the Golden Eagles hit a sacrifice fly to score Nathan Reynolds.  The Cougars responded in the bottom of the 7th with a bunt from Josh Roelofs bringing in Fabian Gutierrez to even the score 1-1.

Sanderson singled to bring in Reynolds again in the top of the 8th which gave The Cougars momentum going into the ninth. 

After a clutch walk in the bottom of the 9th from Cougars Juan Cruz, Braxton Argyle was called to pinch run.  Michael Dagg stepped to the plate looking to even up the score as he hit a towering fly ball to shallow to right field.  Three Golden Eagles closed in on the ball as it dropped to the ground.  Argyle crosses the plate and evens the score 2-2.

The game was cut short as the sun fell behind the mountain and was set to be finished the next morning in the 11th inning.

Both teams stormed the field looking to seal the victory.  Argyle reached 2nd on an error by the left fielder in the fourteenth inning.  Austin Pendergrass bunted him over to put him in scoring position-bringing Dagg to the plate yet again.  He took the first pitch setting up the suicide bunt, which brought Argyle across to win the game. 

The Cougars used a total of 9 pitchers including: Robby Brewster, Bryan Sanchez, Kendal Daniels, Alfred Souza, Eric Evans, Caleb Newman, Hank Johnson, Blake Betts, and Chris Hopballe who was credited with the win.  Hits were recorded by: Fabian Gutierrez, Kade Erickson and Josh Roelofs.


Risucci's Gem Powers Cougars in Baseball Opener
Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
January 29, 2015

 Sophomore right-hander Nick Risucci struck out the first batter he faced Friday in Taft College’s baseball opener against visiting Solano College from Fairfield.

The next guy, though, Alvaro Rubacalba, socked one out of the park to give Solano a quick 1-0 lead at Cougar Field.

Risucci took command and retired the next 24 batters he faced through eight innings to help the Cougars to a 6-1 victory.  He needed just 65 pitches.  Reliever Kendal Daniels retired all three batters he faced in the ninth – two by strikeout.

Freshman catcher Keith Tatum went 2-for-3 for TC at the plate, drove in two runs, scored a run and walked.

Taft High product Austin Pendergrass was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Cougars had 10 hits, nine of them singles. 

TC will try to make it two in a row today against Feather River (Quincy) at 2 p.m. 

Solano and Feather River will collide in the morning game at 10:30.

Barstow will join the three-day, four-team mini-tournament on Saturday, playing Feather River at 10:30 a.m. and the Cougars at 2 p.m.

Fans may struggle finding parking because spring semester classes are in session. 


Taft College Opens with Authority

by Jeff Gilstrap
January 29, 2015

 Taft took on Solano College for the opening game of the 2015 season.  Nick Risucci took the mound for the Cougars throwing only 65 pitches allowing one hit and one walk through his 8 innings pitched.

Solano jumped to an early one run lead after a homerun was given up by Risucci. This lit the fire as the Cougars went on to collect 10 hits as a team with no errors on defense.

Kendal Daniels closed out the 9th inning retiring 3 batters in a row with 2 strikeouts. 

The Cougars offence manufactured 6 runs with RBI’s credited to Nick Kawano, Austin Pendergrass, Keith Tatum (2), Josh Roelofs, and Kade Erickson.

Other Cougar hits accounted for were from Michael Dagg, Fabian Gutierrez, and Jeff Gilstrap. 

Coach Maiocco was pleased with the way his players executed hit and runs which got the wheels turning for the Cougar offense.


Cougars Open Baseball Season with 9 Home Games
Taft Midway Driller
by Dennis McCall
January 26, 2015

 Local baseball fans can get a jump on the season this week when Taft College launches a new campaign with three home games – the first of nine in a row.

And for the diehards there’ll be a couple of other match-ups among the three visiting teams that will be playing at Cougar Field Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll have five games in three days,” said head coach Vince Maiocco, entering his 12th season as the Cougar baseball boss.

“It’ll give us a good look at what we have,” he said.  “We had a very, very good fall season.  We played some four-year schools that really challenged us.”

Coming to town to help christen the season are  Solano College of Fairfield, Feather River College of Quincy and Barstow College of, well, Barstow.

The schedule:
Thursday –Taft vs. Solano at 1:30 p.m.
Friday – Solano vs. Feather River at 10:30 a.m.; Taft vs. Feather River at 2 p.m.
Saturday – Feather River vs. Barstow at 10:30 a.m.; Taft vs. Barstow at 2 p.m.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Maiocco said.  “All nine of our games leading to conference play will be at home.”

TC has never played Solano before but Feather River has become a familiar foe when the Cougars kick off a season.  The Golden Eagles are one of the top programs in the state and are usually in the hunt for the state title.

“We have a few other teams on the schedule that are new,” he added.  “Mid-season we’ll play Fullerton, Riverside and Moorpark.”

He likes the progress he’s seen in his team since the beginning of the fall season.

“I really like the direction we’re going,” he said, despite losing nine key players who moved on to the next level.  They included all-conference pitchers Kevin Little (1.86 ERA) and Brandon Van Stone (2.61 ERA).  Little was co-Pitcher of the Year in the conference and first-team all-state.

“We have good pitching depth this year,” he said, “which allows us to create some situational match-ups.”

Nick Risucci, 4-4 with a 3.60 ERA, leads the pitching corps.  Robby Brewster, a transfer from College of Southern Nevada, also is a likely starter.

Offensively, he has more power in the lineup.

“We have some guys in the middle of the lineup that can swing the bat with power,” he said. 

One of them is freshman catcher Keith Tatum, who played high school ball in Bishop.

Another rookie who can hit with power is shortstop Fabian Gutierrez from Selah, WA.

“He’s not built like a shortstop at 6-1 and 220,” Maiocco said.  “He gives us a solid left handed hitter in the lineup.”  Gutierrez throws right and hits left.

The Cougars have good depth both on the infield and in the outfield,

“We have a very solid infield and we have six or seven outfielders who are pretty even,”
Maiocco said.  “We’re expecting a lot of competition for those starting outfield positions.”

The rest of the non-conference grind looks like this:
Feb. 6 Siskiyous (doubleheader); Feb. 7 Folsom Lake; Feb. 13 Monterey (DH); Feb. 14 Cerro Coso.

TC will open the conference schedule at West Hills in Coalinga on Feb. 17.


Ghouls vs Goblins
by Jeff Gilstrap
November 6, 2014


 On Thursday, October 30th the Taft College Cougars held their second annual Halloween game.  The players sported their favorite Halloween costumes in the 5 inning showdown between the Ghouls and Goblins. The players were ecstatic and the crowd was on the tip of their chairs watching the array of characters put on a show.  Position players took the mound to pitch while the pitchers were allowed to throw on a helmet and hit.   It was fun for the players to loosen up and put their personalities into their costumes.  This will be a tradition Coach Vince Maiocco hopes to keep going for years to come.



more pics

 

Head Coach: Vince Maiocco

Assistant Coaches: Chris Wedel, Michael Hayes

Athletic Trainer, Bruce Ferguson

 

Superintendent/President: Dr. Dena Maloney

Vice President of Student Services:  Darcy Bogle 

Athletic Director:  Kanoe Bandy 

Athletic Secretary: Jennifer Edmaiston