Sophomore shortstop Quinntin Perez hit a home run and drove in a season-high three runs, and freshman Zach Torra struck out eight to help the Hancock's baseball team win for the third time on the road and edge Cuesta 6-5 in a Western State Conference game Tuesday.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 15 in Southern California, evened their conference mark to 5-5 and 16-14 overall. Cuesta, tabbed at No. 18 in the region, fell to 4-6 in league and 15-13 on the season.
Cuesta scored first with a run in the bottom of the third inning against Torra, a Santa Ynez High grad.
Hancock answered in the fifth when Shane Flaningam was hit by a pitch with two outs and nobody on base to extend the inning and Perez followed with a two-run home run, his third of the season, to give Hancock a 2-1 lead. The Cougars tied it in the home half behind two walks and a single.
In the seventh, Josh Harmonay scored on a wild pitch to give Hancock a brief 3-2 lead. The Cougars tied it in the bottom half on a two-out RBI-single from Mason Grotto against Hancock relief pitcher Phillip Martin.
Hancock stormed ahead for good in the eighth with a three-run rally. With two outs and nobody on, Brendan Gomez singled and stole second. The sophomore raced home on a RBI-double off the bat of Josh Tonascia that put the Bulldogs up 4-3. Harmonay followed with a RBI-double to drive in Tonascia and make it a 5-3 game. After Flaningam walked to extend the inning, Perez delivered a RBI-single to score Harmonay to cap the three-run outburst and give Hancock a 6-3 lead.
The Cougars responded with two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth that scored on an error to cut the Hancock lead to one at 6-5. Freshman Ismael Hernandez came in from the bullpen to end the threat in the eighth and sent the Cougars down in order in the ninth to pick up his sixth save of the season.
Torra picked up a no-decision with eight strikeouts over six innings as he scattered five hits, two runs and three walks. Martin earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of relief. The sophomore allowed three hits, three runs, only one of which was earned, and struck out one. Hernandez retired all four batters he faced and fanned one to preserve the win.
Hancock out-hit the Cougars nine to eight. Perez went 2-for-5 with a season-high 3 RBI. Cordell Bowie went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to eight games, and Harmonay went 2-for-4 with one RBI. Freshman Jake Shusterich singled in five at-bats to extend his hitting streak to nine games.