By Nick Giannandrea
College of the Sequoias baseball team finds itself in third place in the Central Valley Conference title race after dropping two of three games against Reedley last week.
And the last one was particularly hard to swallow for Giants' fans.
COS was clinging to a one-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning of the series finale March 7 in Reedley.
Reliever Samuel Bower (Redwood High) delivered what Giants' players and fans believed to be the inning-ending third strike to Danny Gamez.
The umpire, however, called the pitch a ball, leading to a walk for Gamez.
Jake Renteria followed with a two-run home run that put the Tigers up 3-2.
Reedley reliever Harrison Moy set COS down in order in the top of the ninth to secure the win.
COS (18-4 overall) dropped to 6-3 in the CVC, behind first-place Fresno City (16-3, 6-0) and Reedley (15-5, 7-2).
The NorCal No. 5-ranked Giants opened the series against the Tigers with a 4-3 win March 3 at Reedley.
COS opened a 3-0 lead in the second on a two-run double by Isaac Gonzalez (Redwood) that scored Maverick Souza (El Diamante) and McKernan, and a sacrifice fly by Payton Allen (Golden West) that brought home Elijah Munoz (Redwood).
Reedley closed to 4-3 in the seventh on Matthew Mathis' run-scoring groundout, but Ben Pedersen (Tulare Union) came on to shut out the Tigers over the final two innings with two strikeouts to earn his first save.
Bowers started for COS and allowed three earned runs on five hits over seven innings while striking out one.
Gonzalez, Allen and Souza all collected two hits for the Giants.
The series shifted to Visalia on March 5, with the Tigers taking the lead for good in the top of the fifth inning on Jesse Holguin's solo homer en route to a 5-2 victory.
COS received a solo home run from Flavio Perez Jr. (Hanford) in the second, while Casey Miller (Tulare Western) scored on a wild pitch in the fourth.
Reedley starter Blake Costa (six innings) and relievers Peyton McNair (two innings) and Cameron Gallardo (one inning) shut out the Giants the rest of the way.
Perez Jr. had two of the Giants four hits, with Allen and Munoz collecting the others.
During the series finale, COS led 1-0 in the third on Allen's run-scoring double that scored Derek Harris (Porterville), and 2-1 in the top of the eighth as Miller singled in McKernan.
Pedersen started and worked six innings while allowing one earned run on five hits. He struck out four.
Pedersen, who pitched a perfect game Feb. 29 at Taft, ran his streak of perfection to 10 innings during the Reedley series, and had a string of 16 1/3 scoreless innings snapped in the finale.
The NorCal No. 5-ranked Giants are idle until March 17 when they open a three-game series against No. 7 Fresno City. Games are scheduled for 3 p.m. March 17 at Fresno City, 2 p.m. March 19 at COS and 1 p.m. March 21 in Fresno.