When Tanner Bos transferred to Cuesta College in the fall, he probably envisioned performances like the one he turned in Friday afternoon.
The powerful sophomore designated hitter came to the Cougars after recording only 13 at-bats during his freshman year at Fresno City College, and the move south has paid major dividends this spring.
Bos hit his team-leading sixth home run of the season — a grand slam to straight-away center field — propelling the sixth-seeded Cougars to a 7-4 win against visiting Palomar in the first round of the California Community College Athletics Association baseball playoffs.
With the victory, Cuesta improved to 26-11 heading into the second game of the best-of-three series at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“When you play, you have more fun,” head coach Bob Miller said of Bos. “When you play well, you have more fun than that. It’s been good to see him progress through the course of the year.”
It was the second straight game the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Bos hit a grand slam, giving him more home runs than the rest of the team combined. The hit seemed to settle the Cougars at just the right time and helped Cuesta pull ahead for good in the fifth inning.
Palomar starting pitcher Taylor Turski, a crafty veteran left-hander, had walked the previous two batters to load the bases when Bos stepped to the plate.
He watched the first fastball go by and put a good swing on the second and, with a little help from the wind, gave the Cougars a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m just so thankful,” Bos said. “It’s way more fun playing than watching.”
Cuesta starter Louis Raymond (9-2) cruised through the next three innings before Morro Bay graduate Dan Beavers came on in the ninth to earn his team-high seventh save of the season.
Miller said Raymond didn’t have his best stuff working against the 11th-seeded Comets (24-13), but he ground through a couple of tough innings to keep things close. The sophomore right-hander worked around three errors defensively and induced two inning-ending double plays along the way.
Raymond, who entered Friday’s game with the fourth-lowest ERA in the state at 1.34, scattered six hits over eight innings, striking out three and walking two. Two of the four runs he allowed were earned.
“Just keep battling,” Raymond said of his mindset. “I knew eventually our guys would pick us up, and they bailed me out of a couple innings, made really good plays and they swung the bat well today.”
Third baseman Josh Medina and catcher Nate Javine had two hits apiece, and five other Cougars tallied one hit in the victory.
The Cougars can advance to the second round for the first time since 2010 with another win Saturday. Miller said sophomore Neil Uskali (7-1) will start for Cuesta, and preseason All-American Brendan Jenkins will be ready to go for the third game, if necessary.
“The main thing is coming back out tomorrow, setting the tone with our pitching, and then the thing we’ve got to do is play better defense,” Miller said.