By Nick Giannandrea
College of the Sequoias' baseball team is headed to Taft this weekend sitting tied for first place in the Central Valley Conference.
The Giants (16-2, 4-1) have won the first two of their three-game series against the Cougars, with the finale set for 1 p.m. Feb. 29.
The Giants opened an early 3-0 lead as Gonzalez scored in the first inning when a grounder by Flavio Perez Jr. (Hanford) was played for an error, followed by a two-run third that featured a run-scoring single by Casey Miller (Tulare Western) and a sacrifice fly by Maverick Souza (El Diamante).
Taft tied it in the top of the eight on a two-run home run by Greyson Barrett, who also hit a solo shot in the sixth.
Cade Sakamoto (Highland-Bakersfield) gave COS a strong start, allowing one earned run on five hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out six.
JT Friesen (Immanuel) pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win.
The Giants opened the series with a wild 17-12 victory Feb. 25 in a game that featured a combined 36 hits, 11 walks, four errors and three hit batters.
Perez Jr. had a big game, going 4 for 7 with five RBI, including a two-run single that put COS up 15-5 in the top of the sixth.
Taft would close to 15-12 when Luis DeLeon capped a seven-run bottom of the sixth with a two-run homer off Giants' reliever Anthony Torres (Exeter).
But Torres responded with scoreless seventh, and Friesen closed it out with a scoreless eighth and ninth. They helped make a winner of Samuel Bower (Redwood), who worked the first five innings while striking out four to improve to 3-0.
Jordan Hammer (Fowler) helped COS pull away with a two-run single in the eighth.
Other highlights for the Giants included run-scoring singles by Sakamoto and Beavers in the first; a two-run double by Donte Valdez (Redwood) and a run-scoring double by Perez Jr. in the fourth; and an RBI triple by Sakamoto, a run-scoring single by Perez Jr. and a two-run homer by Elijah Munoz (Redwood) in the fifth.
COS will face CVC co-leading Reedley (12-4, 4-1) next week with games scheduled for 2 p.m. March 3 on the road, 2 p.m. March 5 at home, and 1 p.m. March 7 at Reedley.