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COC baseball: Cougars rusted over

COC Baseball: After a long period of inactivity, College of the Canyons falls to Hancock at home

Posted: March 4, 2010 10:55 p.m.
Updated: March 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons designated hitter Jeremy Weber (26) is tagged out by Allan Hancock College second baseman Chris Malloy while trying to steal in the sixth inning on Thursday at COC. The Cougars lost the game 6-5.

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College of the Canyons baseball had only played two games in 15 days leading up to its meeting with Allan Hancock College.

In both of those contests, the Cougars won in the final innings.

On Thursday, they almost did it again.

Despite slowly chipping away at the Bulldogs' early four-run lead, COC could not find a finishing blow and fell for the first time at home this season 6-5 to Hancock.

After the game, Cougars head coach Chris Cota said the rust was caused by the multiple rain outs.

"It was tough to get the guys going," he said. "I think it's good that we have one more game before opening conference."

Tuesday's game against Hancock was rescheduled for today due to rain.

COC (6-3) will play Los Angeles Valley College on Saturday at 2 p.m. in its Western State Conference, South Division opener.

On Thursday, Cougars pitcher Charlie Gillies took the mound for the third straight game, and after giving up a three-run home run in the first inning to Bulldogs designated hitter J.P. Maestas and another run in the second, he began to settle in.

"When you can score first on the road, that's really critical," said Hancock head coach Chris Stevens. "Now you have them trying to chase."

In the third, COC right fielder Cal Vogelsang hit a two-run home run off Hancock starting pitcher Brandon Creath that cut the lead to 4-2.

"My approach was right side all day, and (Creath) hung a curve ball away," Vogelsang said. "I thought that put some confidence in (Gillies) and sparked the team."

Vogelsang was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and one run, while Gillies finished with seven strikeouts and surrendered four earned runs and four walks in five innings.

"You try not to let it affect you," Gillies said of the team's early deficit. "It can really hurt your head. You have to focus on what you can control."

The Bulldogs (6-4) scored in the top of the fourth, when third baseman Peter Straka drove in left fielder Chris Rivera, who walked to lead off the inning.

"I think everyone who walked scored," Cota said. "Errors killed us all day."

The Cougars responded in the bottom of the frame, when left fielder Travis McBride's groundout allowed first baseman Hugo Hernandez to score.

COC cut the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth, when center fielder Kenny Shanahan capitalized on Rivera's indecision in the outfield after Vogelsang doubled to left field.

After Hancock pushed the advantage back to 6-4 in the sixth, COC looked primed for a big inning in the bottom of the seventh inning after back-to-back-to-back singles by Shanahan, Joe Perez and Vogelsang loaded the bases.

Only Shanahan crossed the plate, sprinting home from third after Robert Vickers fouled out in the Cougars' bullpen to make the score 6-5.

"We had to try hard not to give up the big inning, especially against an offensive team like Canyons," Stevens said. "They have a very potent offense."

Shanahan was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, while teammate Jeremy Weber finished 2-for-3.

Creath pitched five innings, giving up six hits, two earned runs and walked one before handing the ball over to Jacob Valenzuela, who allowed five hits, one earned run and struck out three.

COC couldn't get any closer, despite the combined relief efforts of Sean Gavin and Devon Ramirez.

Gavin finished with three strikeouts and gave up one run through two innings, while Ramirez struck out two batters and allowed a hit over the final two frames.

"We have a lot of talent and good team structure," Gillies said. "We are really going to do well in conference."


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