The good news for College of the Sequoias’ baseball team is it remains atop the Central Valley Conference standings.
The bad news, however, is the Giants squandered a chance to grow that lead while letting a four-run lead slip away in the ninth inning of a 12-10 home loss to Fresno City College on April 28.
Sequoias (7-3 overall and in the CVC) leads second-place Reedley (6-3) by half a game. Fresno City is in third at 5-5, followed by Merced (4-5) and Taft (1-7) in the chase for a conference title, the biggest prize in California community college baseball this season with most teams opting out and no state playoffs because of Covid-19 safety precautions.
The Giants host Taft in a doubleheader May 1, with games scheduled to start at noon and 3 p.m.
"Hopefully our guys come back ready to go," Sequoias coach Jody Allen said. "We can't let up. Saturday, we've got to do a good job."
Sequoias was on the verge of adding to its conference lead as it entered the top of the ninth inning against Fresno City with a 10-6 lead.
The Rams, however, responded with a six-run outburst that featured a two-run double from former Redwood High standout Jace Chamberlin and a two-out go-ahead two-run double by Bret Carrell.
The Giants appeared to be on their way to victory in the fifth as Payton Allen (Golden West) hit a sacrifice fly, and Andrew Valdez (El Diamante) and Donte Valdez (Redwood) followed with consecutive run-scoring doubles to build a 10-3 lead.
Davis Beavers (Redwood) knocked in a run when his grounder to shortstop was played for an error, and Andrew Valdez hit an RBI double as Sequoias scored twice in the third to take a 7-0 lead.
An RBI double by Elijah Cortez (Central-Fresno) and bases-loaded walks to Flavio Perez Jr. (Hanford), Beavers, Mike McKernan (Mt. Whitney) and Payton Allen put the Giants up 5-0 in the first.
Former Woodlake standout Robby Stevenson pitched four innings of relief, allowing one earned run on four hits with six strikeouts to earn the win for the Rams.
On April 27, Sequoias rolled to a 13-3 victory at Fresno City behind a five-hit performance from Andrew Valdez and a four-hit effort from Beavers.
Valdez's big day included a two-run home run in the seventh inning and a run-scoring single in the eighth. He finished a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
Beavers contributed run-scoring singles in the fourth and sixth innings, and an RBI double in the eighth.
An RBI double by Nate Gilson (El Diamante) in the sixth gave the Giants the lead for good at 3-2.
Sequoias' 22-hit attack also featured three singles and two RBIs from Payton Allen, and two hits apiece from Cortez, Benjamin Pedersen (Tulare Union) and Perez Jr.
Jaylen Rodriguez (Redwood) earned the win for the Giants, allowing two earned runs over six innings with four strikeouts. Anthony Torres (Exeter) picked up the save while giving up an earned run on three hits over three innings.
"We barrelled the ball, defensively played solid and pitched well," Jody Allen said of the April 27th game. "And (on April 28,) those elements weren't there. (On April 28) we needed to finish and didn't. It's a disappointing loss because if we take care of that one we’ve won four in a row and are two games up (in the conference standings.) Now we bring everyone back to the pack."
At 7-3 overall, Sequoias has the 11th-best winning percentage (.700) of the 52 colleges that opted to compete this season.
"We feel good about where we are at and where we are going," said Jody Allen, whose team has 18 games remaining this season.