COC baseball stumbles at home

Antelope Valley catcher Anthony Parisi (33) tags COC's Senituli Taufahema out at home during a baseball game on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

College of the Canyons baseball started out strong but was unable to keep the bats hot, falling 6-3 to Antelope Valley College in a Western State Conference matchup Tuesday at Cougar Field.

“I think it was more our approach at the plate,” said COC coach Chris Cota. “We just didn’t have a good approach today. The guys need to not try to do too much at bat.”

Cole Kleszcz seemed to get the Cougars (17-10 overall, 10-2 in WSC, East) going in the right direction with a leadoff home run.

But the Marauders (10-18, 4-8) came back with three runs of their own in the second inning, beginning with a two-run single from Jorge Villalobos. Kyle Lathrop then bunted in a run.

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He followed that up with a one-run single in the fourth.

The Cougars were able to get on the board again in the bottom of the fourth when Calvin Estrada hit his first home run of the year to bring the score to 4-2.

COC scored once more in the fifth inning on an Antelope Valley error.

The Marauders scored two insurance runs: one in the eighth, then one in the ninth.

Michael Behen homered in the eighth for Antelope Valley, which bunted in another run in the ninth.

The loss ended the Cougars’ six-game win streak that began March 23. But COC remains in contention for a conference title, one game ahead of Glendale in the win column with seven WSC games left to play.

“We’re just trying to control the things we can control,” Cota said. “When we play defense, we’re a pretty good team and we made a couple errors that did not help out.”

Cota said sound defense and sticking to a plan at the plate are keys to finishing the season strong.

“I think we just need to play solid baseball,” he said. “If we play defense, we’re going to be fine. Our pitching is fine, our hitting is good. It’s really this season just depends on our defense.”

The Cougars face Antelope Valley again in their next game on Thursday.

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