The Yavapai College baseball team hosted the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds at Roughrider Park on Saturday afternoon and finished the day with a split, falling in game one 10-7 and rebounding in game two 14-4.
With the split, the Roughriders now move to 22-11-1 overall on the season with a conference record of 12-8.
The first contest of the day was a wild one that went down to the wire and featured six lead changes.
Mesa struck first with a run in the top of the first inning, however, redshirt-sophomore outfielder Amari Bartee doubled in a run in the bottom of the second and later scored on a perfectly-executed push bunt from sophomore catcher Alton Gyselman.
The Thunderbirds tied things up in the top of the third, however, YC took the lead once more in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from sophomore infielder Kade York.
The seesaw battle only got more intense as Mesa took the lead with two runs in the top of the fifth, before a Roughrider power surge in the bottom half of the frame.
Redshirt-sophomore outfielder Sean Rimmer led the inning off with a laser-beam homer down the left field line to tie the score at 4-4. Later in the inning, sophomore utility man Jo Stevens launched a two-out two-run homer to give the Roughriders a 6-4 lead.
Not wasting any time at all, Gyselman homered on the very next pitch with a towering shot to straight-away centerfield that went over the batter’s eye.
Leading 7-4 and standing six outs away from victory, YC unfortunately saw six Thunderbird runs cross the plate (four in the sixth and two in the seventh) and was held scoreless in the sixth and seventh to bring game one’s final score to 10-7 in favor of Mesa.
At the plate, Stevens led the way with two hits while Rimmer, freshman infielder Ethan Thomas, fellow freshman infielder Rocco Gump, Bartee, Gyselman and York all had one.
The Roughriders scored early and often in game two and raced to a 14-4 run-rule victory.
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the first, Rimmer launched a three-run homer to left-center and a few batters later, Bartee hit a solo shot to the same spot to give YC a 4-2 lead.
Yavapai added on in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double from sophomore infielder Travis Warinner.
Down 5-2, the Thunderbirds scored twice in the top of the fifth to cut their deficit to just one, however, YC put the contest away with one run in the bottom of the fifth, four in the bottom of the sixth and four in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off run-rule victory.
In the bottom of the fifth, freshman infielder Alex Ulloa hit a pinch-hit line-drive homer to center field and in the bottom of the sixth Warinner smoked another RBI double before Thomas hit a monster three-run homer that easily cleared the scoreboard in left field to give the Roughriders a 10-4 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, YC scored on a passed ball, two-out two-run triple off the bat of sophomore infielder JT Taylor and Thunderbird error to earn the 14-4 victory.
On the mound, redshirt-sophomore lefty Cal Lambert got the start and went 4.2 innings with four strikeouts and only one earned run allowed. Freshman righty Cayden Collins pitched the final 2.1 innings of the ballgame and allowed zero hits, zero runs and struck out four Thunderbirds.
At the plate in game two, Warinner led the way with three hits while Rimmer, Bartee and York each had two. Taylor, Thomas, Ulloa, Stevens and freshman catcher Cade Westerlund all finished with one.
The Roughriders are back on the diamond on Tuesday, March 29, in Glendale, Arizona, where they will take on the Glendale Community College Gauchos in an ACCAC doubleheader that starts at noon.
– D.J. Irwin