Despite enjoying one of the best records in the area, the Taft High baseball team has been plagued by inconsistency. Taft Coach Rich McKeon is unsure how his team will perform from inning to inning, let alone from game to game.
The Toreadors were again their mercurial selves Tuesday, losing to Kennedy, 11-2, in a Northwest Valley Conference game at Kennedy.
"We're a good team, but we're an up-and-down team and this was a down day," McKeon said. "I wasn't surprised because we've lacked consistency all season.
"We've had these problems in the past and we will continue to have them unless we make some adjustments."
West Valley League member Taft--ranked sixth in The Times' area poll--dropped to 8-3, 3-3 in league play. Kennedy, ranked seventh and a member of the North Valley League, is 9-2, 4-2.
There was nothing wrong with the Golden Cougars' showing.
"This is probably as good as we've played this season," Kennedy Coach Manny Alvarado said. "We always tell the kids to be prepared to play a one-run game.
"This was definitely a good (game)."
Kennedy jumped ahead early.
The Golden Cougars took a 3-0 lead after one inning on Rick Nadeau's three-run, inside-the-park home run. Nadeau drove the ball about 400 feet to straightaway center.
Toreador center fielder Mike Ferguson gave chase but the ball landed over his head as John Toven, Jeff Tagliaferri and Nadeau circled the bases. The homer was Nadeau's fourth and tied him for the team lead with Tagliaferri.
"Yeah, that thing really went out there," Nadeau said. "It just kept going."
David Bourne hit his third homer in the fourth to put the Golden Cougars ahead, 5-0. They scored another run in the fifth and five in the sixth.
Toreador starter Stacy Kleiner (3-2) worked into the sixth. He allowed nine runs (seven earned), hit three batters and had a wild pitch. Taft committed four errors behind him.
His counterpart had a much easier time.
Kennedy's Miguel Diaz (6-1) cruised in pitching a complete game. Diaz--who pitched a no-hitter this season--threw a three-hitter, striking out four and walking three.
Diaz had a shutout going into the seventh but walked pinch-hitters Mike Andrisano and Dave Helman with two out. The next batter, John Soto, then drove them in with a triple.
"I just had to get that last out and my nerves were getting to me a little," Diaz said. "I was thinking about it a little.
"My stuff was really on until then. I was hitting my spots all day."
Nadeau led Kennedy at the plate, going two for four with four runs batted in.