The Hancock College softball team has just two games left in its regular season, and the Bulldogs might win the Western State Conference-North Division title championship outright.
Then again, the Bulldogs might end up in fourth place.
The rest of the top of the pack drew closer to Hancock after Cuesta swept two games from the Bulldogs at Hancock Thursday. The Cougars rallied to win the completion of a suspended game 4-3 in nine innings and beat the Bulldogs 5-3 in a regulation game.
The suspended game was picked up in the top of the sixth with Hancock at bat, since the Bulldogs were the visitors when the original game was suspended at that point.
Hancock took a 3-2 lead when Larissa Ostrander scored on a Maggie Dasis groundout in the top of the ninth.
However, the Cougars tied the game on back-to-back one-out doubles by Kaitlin Doty and Dayna Manser. Madi Zelenski reached base on an error then Taylor Jacobson drove a Bailey Killough pitch deep to center for a walk-off double.
The Bulldogs never recovered in the regulation game after Cuesta pitcher Demi Danell hit a three-run home run in the second to give the Cougars a 4-0 lead. Those three runs were unearned.
At press time Hancock still had more conference wins than any other WSC-North team, but the Bulldogs had company in the loss column.
With only a home Tuesday doubleheader against Moorpark (the opener is slated for 1 p.m.) left in its regular season, Hancock is 25-13, 17-5. Ventura was 16-5 in the WSC-North going into its game against seventh-place Santa Monica Thursday.
Cuesta is 15-5 in conference games. The Cougars have doubleheaders Saturday at Santa Barbara and Tuesday at Bakersfield left on their schedule. Other than the doubleheader at Hancock, Moorpark (13-6 WSC-North) has three games against last-place Los Angeles Pierce left on its schedule.
In contrast to what was originally reported, Cuesta, not Hancock, filed a protest after umpires called a forfeit against Cuesta, not Hancock, after a substitution violation with the March 27 game tied 2-2 in the top of the sixth at Cuesta.
Hancock athletic director Kim Ensing said Hancock questioned the ruling as well, and said the conference commissioner upheld the protest.
The Bulldogs spotted the Cougars those four second-inning runs in the regulation game after Cuesta rallied to win the suspended game.
Hancock drew to within 4-3 on Killough's two-run single in the fourth inning and an Isabella Partida sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Cuesta got an unearned run in the seventh, and that was it for the scoring. Hancock's day ended rather fittingly when a Bulldogs' baserunner was called out for a violation for the final out of the regulation game.
Danell pitched around four Cuesta errors. Hancock made three. Both teams had five hits.
Hancock falls to Ventura 5-4
Righetti High graduate Wyatt Coll collected three hits to lead a 13-hit attack, but a late rally fell short in the Bulldogs’ 5-4 loss at home to Ventura College. The Bulldogs fell to 6-10 in Western State Conference play and 14-22 overall. Ventura improved to 8-8 in league and 18-18 on the season.
Ventura took the lead for good with a two-run second and a three-run third inning against Hancock starting pitcher Phillip Martin. The freshman from Cabrillo allowed five runs and seven hits in three innings. He fell to 0-5 on the season. Left-hander Evan Sonny struck out seven and allowed just two hits in six-shutout innings of relief to keep the Bulldogs in the game.
The Bulldogs got on the board in the fourth inning when Nash Ackerman reached on a fielder’s choice allowing Walker Armstrong to race home from third. Hancock trailed 5-1 until the seventh when Kyle von Tillow tripled to the gap to drive in Ryan Peinado to make it a 5-2 game. Coll stepped in and singled home von Tillow to cut the deficit to 5-3.
The Bulldogs rallied with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth. Coll singled to extend the game. Josh Harmonay singled moving Coll over to third. Quinntin Perez pinch hit and delivered a two-out single to drive in Coll and move Harmonay to second as the tying run. However, both runners were stranded when the final out was recorded.
Coll went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Harmonay, Armstrong and von Tillow had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs, who outhit the Pirates 13-9.
Hancock will return to action Friday when Moorpark visits at 2:30 p.m. in a game rescheduled from last week.