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College baseball: Heavy metal

Canyons falls behind early, can’t complete comeback

Posted: March 7, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 7, 2012 1:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons catcher Drew Sandler reacts as Bakersfield College teammates congratulate Isaiah Turner (24) on a home run in the third inning on Tuesday at COC. Bakersfield defeated Canyons 18-15.

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There’s an old adage in baseball that says you’re going to see something different every day you come to the park.

Well, Tuesday’s game between College of the Canyons and Bakersfield had just about everything.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, that included a loss.

Bakersfield blasted its way to a 10-run lead early on, and the Cougars couldn’t quite dig out of the hole in a wild 18-15 loss in their Western State Conference home opener.

The game featured 33 combined runs, 34 combined hits, 10 combined errors, eight combined hit batsmen and seven combined home runs.

Needless to say, the ball and the batters were leaving home plate a lot.

“I think the big thing was our pitching,” said COC head coach Chris Cota. “Couple that with their hitting, and they’re going to score a lot of runs.”

Starting pitcher David Haerle lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up six earned runs on seven hits, including three home runs.

COC reliever Alberto Flores didn’t fare much better, giving up five more runs in the fourth inning, which included a grand slam by Bakersfield’s Elijah Trail. The Renegades led 12-2 once the inning was over.

“It was almost like a home run derby,” said Canyons catcher Drew Sandler. “When that’s happening, you know pitchers aren’t hitting their spots.”

That said, the Cougars (8-5-1, 1-1) came into the game batting .301 as a team, so they knew they could hit.

Bakersfield starting pitcher Justin Kelly soon found that out.

Kelly was solid through the first three innings, but the wheels came off in the fourth. COC sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs in the inning, highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Jake Jelmini that also scored Chad DeLaGuerra, Brett Piper and Sandler.

“We brought it up in the dugout,” Sandler said. “We can come back from anything.”

The COC bats continued to light up Bakersfield (11-3, 2-0), adding five runs in the sixth inning and two in the eighth.

“They had the last at-bat,” said Renegades head coach Tim Painton. “No lead is safe against this team.”

But the Cougars’ pitching let them down. After Flores left the game at the end of the fourth, the bullpen combined to give up six more runs, which gave Bakersfield a steady cushion.

Things only stabilized when COC turned to Allen Sarkissian, despite Sarkissian only having pitched two innings all season. He only gave up one hit and struck out four over the final 2 2/3 innings.

“He was really the lone bright spot,” Cota said. “He definitely pitched well today. It’s nice to see him get some work in.”

Despite 10 total pitchers being used in the game, the Cougars never led and therefore Kelly earned the win and Haerle took the loss, his third on the season.

Michael Browne went 4-for-6 and score two runs to lead Canyons at the plate, while Jelmini went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and three runs. DeLaGuerra went 3-for-7 in the leadoff spot with three RBIs, and Sandler hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

Trail had three hits and six RBIs to lead Bakersfield, and Brent Peterson went 3-for-5 with four runs.

The Cougars will try to rebound when they host Glendale at 2 p.m. Thursday.

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