The Yavapai College baseball team hit the road on Tuesday afternoon and left Chandler-Gilbert Community College with a split. The Roughriders fell to the Coyotes 4-3 in game one and rebounded with a 9-1 win in game two. The split moves Yavapai’s overall record to 27-12-1 and conference record to 17-9.
Sophomore righty Nate Ward got the start on the mound in game one and pitched a nice ballgame. The sophomore tossed 5.1 innings and allowed four runs (only two of which were earned) on five hits while striking out six Coyotes.
Fellow sophomore righty Tyler Davis tossed the final 0.2 innings on the mound and recorded one strikeout in the process.
What started as a pitcher’s duel between the Roughriders and Coyotes turned into a wild finish as the teams remained scoreless through four innings, until YC struck in the top of the fifth.
Freshman infielder Ethan Thomas lined a single to center to start off the frame which brought sophomore catcher Alton Gyselman to the plate. Gyselman followed with a perfect sacrifice bunt that the Coyotes threw away, moving Thomas to third and Gyselman to second and setting the Roughriders up with a good scoring opportunity.
After a couple of strikeouts, sophomore infielder JT Taylor cashed in on that opportunity and smoked a two-out two-run single to right to give YC a two-run advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth, however, Chandler-Gilbert scored a couple of runs on two-out singles and scored once more on an error to take a 3-2 lead.
The Coyotes then scored once more on an error in the bottom of the sixth to push their lead to 4-2 while only needing three more outs to earn a win.
Those outs did not come easy as the Roughriders pushed a run across in the top of the seventh on a walk and back-to-back Chandler-Gilbert errors.
Down 4-3 and with runners on second and third with one out, the Roughriders were unable to push another run across the plate and fell 4-3.
At the plate, freshman utility man Ben Ziegler tallied two hits while sophomore infielder Travis Warinner, Taylor, sophomore utility man Jo Stevens, redshirt-sophomore outfielder Amari Bartee, Thomas and Gyselman all had one.
The Roughriders received another quality start in game two as freshman righty Jackson Thomas got the start and tossed six innings of one-run ball while striking out six.
Sophomore righty Ben Staiger followed Thomas with two innings of scoreless relief, before freshman righty Cayden Collins closed the ballgame out with a scoreless ninth inning.
Offensively, Yavapai struck first in the top of the second as freshman catcher Cade Westerlund brought home the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly.
With Yavapai leading 1-0, the game remained close until the top of the fifth inning when the Roughriders exploded for six runs.
Warinner and redshirt-sophomore outfielder Sean Rimmer tallied RBI singles in the inning, Stevens hit a sacrifice fly to bring home a run and Bartee put an exclamation point on the inning with a no-doubt three-run homer that went way over the left field fence.
The Coyotes notched a run in the bottom of the sixth and YC scored twice more on a two-run double off the bat of Warinner in the top of the eighth as Yavapai cruised to a 9-1 victory.
At the plate, Rimmer led the way with three hits while Taylor and Bartee each had two. Zeigler, Stevens, Bartee and Westerlund all tallied a hit in game two as well.
The Roughriders are back in action on Friday, April 8, at home against Scottsdale Post Grad with game one of the doubleheader scheduled to start at noon.
– D.J. Irwin