Taft rallied for six runs in the eighth inning to negate three-run home runs by Josh Tonascia and Daniel Curiel and defeat the Allan Hancock College baseball team 11-7 on Thursday afternoon. The Bulldogs dropped to 3-1, while Taft improved to 2-1.
The Bulldogs built an early 6-2 lead behind a three-run home run by Tonasica in the top of the first inning, and a three-run blast to left off the bat of Curiel in the second. Curiel finished the day 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and his first collegiate home run.
The Cougars rallied for two runs in the second against Hancock starting pitcher Nic Cardinal to make it a 6-4 game. The Bulldogs pushed one across in the third when Ismael Hernandez singled, Reed Odland was hit by a pitch, Chad Jones walked, and Dylan Maiden reached on a Cougar error that allowed everyone to advance. Taft scored once more in the bottom half against Cardinal to make it a 7-5 Hancock lead.
Cardinal, who struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings against LA Pierce last week, lasted 3 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, five runs, four were earned, and struck out eight. He issued two walks and allowed two home runs in a no-decision.
Freshman Jesse Gasca relieved Cardinal and breezed through the fifth through seventh innings maintaining Hancock's two-run advantage. The Lompoc High School graduate got into trouble in the eighth when he issued a single and two walks. Jake Shusterich came in to relieve Cardinal with the bases loaded and two outs. Tyler Gardner greeted him with a two-run single to tie the game at 7-7. Shusterich walked the next batter to load the bases. Hernandez came in to try to escape the jam. However, Jade Smoot delivered a bases-clearing double to give Taft its first lead of the game at 10-7. Smoot later scored on a wild pitch to cap Taft's six-run eighth inning.
Gasca took the loss allowing three runs in four innings. He allowed just one hit, walked two and struck out four. Shusterich gave up two runs and did not record an out. Hernandez was charged with one run and struck out one in 1/3 of an inning.
Hernandez went 4-for-4 at the plate to account for half of the Bulldogs' eight hits. Cordell Bowie, Tonascia each had one hit, while Curiel added two. Maiden scored twice.
The Bulldogs continue their five-game road trip at 1 p.m. Saturday at L.A. Pierce. Hancock won a two-game weekend series from the Brahmas to open the season last week in Santa Maria.