By Nick Giannandrea
College of the Sequoias' baseball team has won blowouts and squeakers.
The Giants have come from behind and had to hold on to win games.
They've out-slugged teams and out-pitched them, too.
COS even has a walk-off victory.
It's added up to an undefeated start as the Giants will carry a 10-0 record into a weekend home series against Cosumnes River (4-4). Games are scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 14, 1 p.m. Feb. 15 and 1 p.m. Feb. 16.
"I'm happy for the guys and thankful for where we're at," COS coach Jody Allen said. "It's really been a team effort."
COS extended its unbeaten start with a 4-2 victory at Bakersfield on Feb. 11.
COS also scored in the first on Sakamoto's run-scoring single, and in the eighth when Isaac Gonzalez (Redwood) drew a bases-loaded walk.
Rodriguez (3-0) earned the win after allowing two earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. Pedersen and Bower weren't scored on over 1 1/3 and 2 innings, respectively, while Friesen pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save.
Of the 88 community college baseball programs from around the state, the Giants are one of five who had not lost through Feb. 12. Ohlone (11-0), Folsom Lake (8-0), Santa Rosa (8-0) and Sacramento City (7-0) are the others.
"This is a tough game and there is a lot that needs to go right to win," Allen said. "They guys are doing a good job of playing pretty well."
Pretty much everything has gone right for the Giants so far.
* They have slowly pulled away for a win (8-2 over Allan Hancock on Jan. 25)
* They have flashed dominant pitching (a four-hitter in a 5-1 win over Hancock Jan. 28, and a three-hitter in an 11-1 win over Mission on Feb. 1).
* They have come from behind (scoring twice in the bottom of the eight for a 5-4 defeat of Marin on Jan. 30, and overcoming an early 2-1 deficit during a 6-2 defeat of Mission on Feb. 6).
* They have bashed their way to win (clubbing 13 hits, including five for extra bases, in a 9-3 win over Marin on Jan. 31).
* They've built a big lead (rolling to a 6-1 edge in the third en route to a 9-6 win over Bakersfield on Feb. 4).
* They've won a back-and-forth affair (surviving a four-run ninth after overcoming a 5-1 deficit to hold off Golden West 10-9 on Feb. 7).
* And they've walked off winners (rallying from a 7-6 deficit in the bottom of the ninth while scoring twice on wild pitches).
"One of the things you want in the preseason is to play a variety of different types of games," Allen said. "You want to get out front and hold on. You want to come from behind and win a game. These are the things you want your guys to experience to get ready for conference."
Pitching has been the catalyst behind COS' unbeaten start. The Giants sport a 3.10 team earned-run average
Sakamoto has been the anchor, going 3-0 through three starts while posting a 4.00 ERA over a team-leading 18 innings.
Rodriguez, Pedersen, Bowers and Nikolas Gardea (Kennedy-Delano) have all started at least one game and feature ERA's of 4.15 or less. Friesen hasn't allowed a run through seven appearances and 6 2/3 innings.
"The pitching has been the one constant that has allowed us to stay in every game," Allen said. "For the most part, our pitching has been outstanding. And a lot of guys are contributing, which is a big plus."
Offensively, the Giants are hitting .310 as a team, led by Isaac Gonzalez (.463, 11 RBI).
Also making key contributions have been Allen (8 RBI), Valdez (.268, five doubles, 9 RBI), Sakamoto (.333, 5 RBI), Elijah Munoz (Redwood/.289, 7 RBI), Flavio Perez Jr. (Hanford/.316, 3 doubles), Maverick Souza (El Diamante/.344, 5 RBI) and Davis Beavers (Redwood/.357, 4 RBI).
"We haven't hit our stride offensively yet," Allen said. "We've had a couple guys get off to a great start and a couple guys who have struggled a little bit. But we hope to get going as we get into the (conference) season."
COS is set to open Central Valley Conference play Feb. 18 at home against Merced (4-3). First pitch is set for 2 p.m. The Giants also play at Merced at 2 p.m. Feb. 20 and at home against the Blue Devils at 1 p.m. Feb. 22.
"The big thing for us is we need guys to stay healthy and to keep working hard," Allen said. "If we stay focused, we've got a chance because we have enough talent. We feel really confident that if we play to our capabilities, we can play with and beat anyone. The key is keeping that right approach every day."