Kennedy High found out extra baserunners work wonders for station-to-station baseball.
The Golden Cougars didn’t have an extra base hit, but had plenty of scoring opportunities in a 12-3 victory over Taft in a Northwest Valley Conference game Thursday afternoon at Taft.
Three Toreador pitchers walked 11 batters and hit two more. Taft committed four errors. It was only a matter of time before Kennedy (5-2, 2-0) broke the game open.
Danny Chavez, normally Taft’s left fielder, has had to pitch because of injuries to the Toreadors’ two top pitchers. Last week against Santa Monica, Chavez had a complete-game victory.
Taft Coach Rich McKeon hoped for the same luck against Kennedy.
But after giving up two runs in the first inning, Chavez ran into trouble again in the third, walking two batters and giving up a single to load the bases.
Justin Wade, pitching for the first time in two weeks because of a hip injury, relieved Chavez.
The move initially worked. After walking Enrique Navarette to make it 3-0, Wade struck out Pat Hernandez and Aron Rofer.
But in the fourth, Wade walked four batters, which the Golden Cougars parlayed into six runs and a 9-0 lead.
"[Chavez] did a remarkable job against Santa Monica,” McKeon said. “We wanted to see if he could do it again. If he couldn’t, we’d bring in Justin. Justin just wasn’t sharp.”
Kennedy’s offense wasn’t all walks. Jack Cassel had a two-run single in the fourth and Hernandez and Rofer had RBI singles in the rally.
“We need to remember we don’t have to be extraordinary [hitters],” Rofer said. “We just need to keep things going.”
Taft (3-4, 0-2) never got going offensively. Senior left-hander Wes Crown (2-0) limited the Toreadors to four hits in the complete game and didn’t allow a runner past first base until the fifth inning.
Crown had help defensively. Rofer, trying to follow in the shadow of former standout catchers Kevin Serr and David Lusk, threw out two runners and made a difficult catch of a pop-up in the seventh inning.
The Golden Cougars wavered only in the bottom of the fifth inning. Trailing 9-0, Taft scored two runs off a single by Mike Fonvergne, a throwing error by Rofer and a sacrifice fly by Steve Alexander.
Kennedy Coach Manny Alvarado, imploring the Golden Cougars to “play ball” blamed the letdown on the new 10-run rule. If a team leads by 10 runs after five innings or more, the game ends. Kennedy used several pinch-hitters in the fifth inning in case it reached the limit.
“What are we supposed to do, stop playing?” Alvarado said. “I’ve got to give the guys on the bench a chance.”
Kennedy regained its focus by the bottom of the sixth inning, when Crown got three outs on four pitches.
Kennedy added two runs in the seventh inning on a single by Rofer for a 12-2 lead.