Story and photo by Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
Just two games into the 2020 season College of the Canyons has already developed a reputation for late inning heroics. On Saturday, the Cougars (1-1) plated four runs in the ninth and four more in the 10th to take down host El Camino College by a 9-6 final score.
The victory came a day after Canyons put together a seven-run ninth inning to keep things interesting in a 13-11 Opening Day loss at Cougar Field. In all, COC has scored 15 of its 20 runs this season after the start of the ninth inning.
Freshman catcher DJ Kougher has led the attack thus far, starting the year a combined 6-for-9 with four runs and four RBIs with three doubles and a home run in the two outings vs. El Camino (1-1).
Kougher's RBI double in the ninth inning of Saturday's contest scored Doyle Kane to get the Cougars within a run. Kougher later scored after Tyler Grodell's single was misplayed by the ECC center fielder to tie the game at 4-4. Grodell quickly followed suit on an RBI single by Davis Cop that gave Canyons a brief 5-4 advantage.
The Warriors pushed across a run of their own vs. COC reliever Ayden Alger to tie things up at 5-5 and send the game to extras. However, that minor setback only set the stage for Kougher who tagged a ball to deep left-center field for a three-run home run that put Canyons back in control. He finished the game 2-for-5 with four RBIs.
Brendon Vela singled home a run later in the inning to put things at 9-5 heading to the home-half of the 10th.
Alger (1-0), allowed one more run, but pitched the rest of the way to help the Cougars get their first win of the season. The lefty pitched three innings in all and was charged with two earned runs with two walks and a pair of punchouts.
Vela, Cop and Will Chambers each recorded two hits in the game. Grodell and Cory Jones both scored a pair of runs.
COC sophomore JP Caire got the start and lasted four innings. He struck out five batters, allowed four walks and was charged with three earned runs. Chambers also saw action on the mound, taking over for Caire in the fifth inning and allowing one run on four hits and a walk over his three frames.
El Camino reliever Julian Diaz (0-1) took the loss after allowing five runs, four earned, in 1 2/3 innings of work. Right fielder Chris Villavicencio led the Warriors at the plate going 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs.
The Cougars return to home territory on Tuesday, Jan. 28, for a 2 p.m. game vs. Golden West College.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.