By Jesse Munoz
For The Signal
After clawing its way back to a two-run deficit, College of the Canyons couldn’t get any closer, instead dropping a 17-9 decision to conference rival Citrus College at Cougar Field on Wednesday.
Canyons (11-8, 2-1) trailed 9-2 heading into the home half of the sixth but quickly got back into the game on RBIs from Calvin Estrada and Valencia grad Tyler Erne. A solo home run from Ryan Mendoza followed, putting the score at 9-5 and temporarily swinging momentum in COC’s favor.
The Cougars pushed across three more runs in the eighth, highlighted by RBI singles from Senituli Taufahema and Valencia product Trace Eldridge which cut the Owls’ lead to 10-8, and signaled the possibility of a COC comeback.
Taufahema finished the day 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. He currently leads the club with 28 hits, while his .431 batting average is best in the Western State Conference.
Eldridge also had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.
The comeback bid was quickly stifled, however, as Citrus (13-7, 3-0) responded with a backbreaking two-out rally that resulted in seven runs and a 16-8 advantage.
Estrada powered a two-out solo home run, his team-leading fifth of the season, to straight away center field in the ninth, but the Cougars were still forced to swallow the 17-9 home loss. The sophomore outfielder was 1-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and a pair of runs.
Cougar starting pitcher Eddie Rosales (0-1) took the loss after working his way through five innings. The freshman allowed eight runs on eight hits and two walks.
COC is now 10-2 at Cougar Field on the year. The loss also dropped Canyons down to second place in the WSC, East Division standings, a game behind Citrus and co-leader Glendale College (14-9, 3-0).
COC is currently the ninth-ranked team in Southern California, according to the most recent California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) poll, released on Tuesday. Citrus entered at No. 10 followed by No. 11 Glendale.
The Cougars will continue the first round of conference play with a road trip to Glendale at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Cougars Settle for Second as Comerford Fires 69
COC freshman Jones Comerford shot a 3-under par round of 69 to tie for medalist honors, but the Cougars were forced to settle for second place at Western State Conference (WSC) No. 6 at Antelope Valley Country Club on Monday.
Comerford’s round of 69 was a season-best for the freshman and the top score for the Cougars so far this season. He tied with Zack Steinberger of Santa Barbara City College and Joey Herrera of Ventura College.
SBCC won the event with a five-man score of 369. Canyons was next at 376 followed by Ventura College (381), Allan Hancock (383) and Bakersfield (389) in the top five.
Monday’s second-place result snapped COC’s conference win streak at four. The Cougars had won the previous four events by an average of 11 strokes.
Clemente Yanes finished with a round of 74 followed by Michael Lindgren at 76 and Justin Buenaventura with a 77. Corey Haase and Clayton Kucera finished with identical rounds of 80, with one of those scores dropped from the final five-man tally.
Canyons will get back on the course at WSC No. 7 hosted by Glendale College at Oakmont Country Club on Monday.
Cougar Relay Teams Sprint to Victory
The COC men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams sprinted to a pair of impressive victories last Saturday while competing at the Occidental College Distance Carnival, standing out in a field that included athletes from several four-year schools.
In the 4x100m event it was the combination of Leo Lambert III, Slade Cavallaro, Blake Beeler and Calel Christian clocking a time of 42.43 seconds to top a field of six schools that included four-year programs CSU, San Marcos and CSU Bakersfield.
Later, it was Christian, Beeler, Lambert and Cavallaro with a time of 3:19.57 to win the 4x400m event, besting a field that included CSU, Bakersfield, Whittier College and Biola University.
Lambert added to his day with a ninth-place finish in the 100 at a time of 11.07. Cavallaro took ninth in the 400 at a pace of 50.59 seconds.
Also earning a top-10 finish for the Cougars was Marcel Sylvester with a leap of 1.83 meters in the high jump.
Canyons will next compete at the annual Bakersfield College Relays on Saturday.
For more information about the Cougars’ 17 intercollegiate sports programs visit www.COCathletics.com.