Freshman pitcher Zach Torra struck out eight and Jake Shusterich collected three hits, including a home run to lead the Allan Hancock College baseball team to a 5-4 win over Taft Wednesday at John Osborne Field. The Bulldogs stayed perfect at home and improved to 8-0 at home and 9-7 overall. Taft, which beat Hancock earlier this month, dropped to 7-7.
Shusterich started the scoring with a solo home run in the bottom of the first, his team-leading third homerun of the season.
Hancock rallied in the third as Davy Demeter was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Quinntin Perez drew a walk. Both runners later advanced on a passed ball. After Shuterich drew a one-out walk to load the bases, sophomore Cordell Bowie coaxed a walk to force in a run to push Hancock's lead to 2-0. Brendan Gomez followed with a groundball to shortstop to drive in Perez to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-0.
The Cougars rallied for two in the fourth on a RBI-double and passed ball against Torra to pull to within one at 3-2. Hancock responded in the bottom half as Perez tripled by the diving Taft outfielder to score Shane Flaningam, who led off the inning with a single to make it a 4-2 game. The Bulldogs scored again in the fifth when Shusterich led off with a single and came all the way around to score on a double by Bowie to put the Bulldogs ahead 5-2.
Taft pushed two runs across in the eighth that were charged to Hancock reliever Phillip Martin, but Ismael Hernandez came in to shut the door by striking out Wesley Herbert with the tying-run on base to end the threat.
Hernandez retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his fifth save and second in as many days. The freshman retired all four batters he faced, including three by strikeout.
Torra earned the win to improve to 2-1 by scattering three hits and two earned runs over five innings. Making his first start in almost three weeks, the Santa Ynez High School graduate struck out eight and walked four.
Martin allowed two runs and three hits in two-plus innings of relief. The sophomore struck out two Cougars. Dylan Maiden allowed one hit in two-thirds of an inning with one strikeout.
Both teams finished with seven hits. Shusterich went 3-for-3 with an RBI, two runs scored, one walk and a solo-shot. Flaningam, Brian Dowell, Bowie and Perez had one hit apiece. Dowell and Bowie legged out doubles.
The Bulldogs will hit the road Saturday, March 3, for a 1 p.m. game at College of the Sequoias. Hancock beat the Giants 6-4 on Tuesday. The Bulldogs open Western State Conference play March 6 at home against Santa Barbara City College.