The Petaluma High School baseball team sputtered from the start and finally crashed in a 14-4 home diamond loss to Rancho Cotate Wednesday afternoon.
Senior pitcher Jaymes Potts suffered from lack of glove support, but still managed to keep Petaluma's Trojans in the game through the first four innings, but a succession of relief pitchers allowed Rancho Cotate's Cougars to spin merrily on a run carousel over the last two innings.
The normally good-gloved Trojans were charged with four physical errors in the contest, and made several other mental miscues in helping the Cougars run away with what, for the first five innings, was a close contest.
There was a glimmer of brightness for Petaluma as its offense showed signs of life. The Trojans had seven hits in the game, and hit several other balls squarely. Catcher Bubba Thomason soared a high fly over the left field fence for a first-inning home run and later drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and singled. Second baseman Cameron Meyers belted a double to left to drive in a run and also scored himself and first baseman Scott Hilbert drove in a run with a solid single.
Potts did want he wanted to do over the first five innings, inducing Rancho Cotate batters to hit a succession of ground balls. Unfortunately for him and the Trojans, a few rolled through for hits and three were booted by Petaluma infield. Toss in a dropped pop-up and a throw to the wrong base and it added up to three undeserved runs off the right hander in those five frames.
Potts ran into trouble in the sixth, and when Rancho's Connor Littleton smacked a single to right after an error and two consecutive bunts had loaded the bases, Petaluma coach Paul Cochrun called for a new pitcher. However, new did not bring the neeeded relief. All three of the base runners still statistically Potts' responsibility scored and before the frame was over, Rancho was in front, 7-4.
Thomason had given the Trojans a run in the first with his big fly, and, in the third, a Cougar throwing error off a grounder hit by Brandon Wallace opened the door for three Petaluma runs. Blake Patrick contributed an infield hit, Meyers hit his RBI double to left, Thomason lofted a sacrifice fly to right and Hilbert slapped an RBI hit to left in the rally.
That put Petaluma ahead 4-3 until Rancho Cotate took charge in the sixth inning.
If the sixth inning was Petaluma ugly, the seventh was something straight out of a zombie flick. A tio of Petaluma pitchers tried vainly to stop a Cougar attack that mixed five hits with two-more hit batters, another bunt hit and a sacrifice fly.
The loss left Petaluma with a 1-3 record going into a Saturday afternoon game at Redwood High School in Larkspur (1 p.m. start). Rancho Cotate is 2-0 on the season with a Friday game against Wood High School from Vacaville next on its agenda. Wood's Trevin Haseltine, one of the nation's top prep prospects, is expected to pitch against the Cougars.