TAFT — The Merced College baseball team took another step in the right direction on Thursday afternoon, rallying to beat Taft for the second time in three days.
Shota Nagatomi scored what proved to be the winning run on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth and Motoki Kawashima squeezed home an insurance run to make it a 4-2 victory.
The win moved Merced College (4-7) to 2-0 in the Central Valley Conference and back toward the .500 mark for the season.
Pitching has led the charge in the Blue Devils’ recent turnaround. It was more of the same on Thursday, as Thomas Longworth and Hiroki Taniguchi combined to limit Taft (4-7, 0-2 CVC) to two runs on nine hits. Taniguchi (1-2) was particularly sharp, allowing just two hits in four shutout innings of relief to pick up his first collegiate win.
MC needed to fight back twice in the game.
The Cougars’ Roman Testani and Adrian Rodriguez produced run-scoring singles in the third and fifth innings.
Jimbo Pernetti’s big week continued for the Blue Devils in response. Days after scoring the walk-off run in Tuesday’s thrilling 12-inning victory, the freshman twice tied the game twice with an RBI single in the fourth an RBI ground out in the sixth.
Joseph Salmeri continued the hot hitting that forced his bat into the starting lineup, going 3 for 4 – his fourth multi-hit game in five starts.
Second baseman Ryan Emerald’s bat is also showing signs of life after a slow start. The sophomore went 2 for 4, hitting safely in his third straight game and picking up his first multi-hit outing of the season.