The Yavapai College baseball team hit the road on Saturday and left Central Arizona College with a split against the No. 1-ranked Vaqueros, emerging victorious in game one with a score of 4-3, before falling 15-5 in game two. Overall, the Roughriders move to 10-9-1 with a 4-6 record in ACCAC games.
Sophomore righty Nate Ward was dominant in YC’s game-one victory. Ward tossed all seven innings, struck out nine Vaqueros, allowed just four hits and allowed just three runs (none of which were earned).
With Ward steadying the ship and keeping the Central bats at bay, the Roughriders stayed patient and eventually broke through offensively with some clutch at bats in the later innings.
The Vaqueros scored a trio of unearned runs in the bottom of the second and stood nine outs away from Victory when the Roughriders stepped up to the plate in the top of the fifth.
Sophomore utility man JT Taylor led the frame off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore catcher Alton Gyselman and moved to third base as sophomore infielder Kade York dropped down a bunt single to reach first base safely.
With runners at the corners, freshman utility man Ben Zeigler singled to right to bring home the Roughriders’ first run of the day and move York to third. Redshirt-sophomore outfielder Sean Rimmer followed Zeigler with a sacrifice fly to cut the Central lead to just one.
After a walk from freshman infielder Ethan Thomas moved Zeigler to second, redshirt-sophomore outfielder Amari Bartee capped off the rally with a clutch 0-2 two-out game-tying single to knot the score up at 3-3.
The teams traded zeros in the sixth inning and after two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Rimmer stepped up to the plate and delivered a go-ahead solo homer over the left field fence to give the Roughriders their first lead of the day.
Up 4-3 and three outs from victory, Ward secured the victory with a groundout and a pair of strikeouts to cap off the incredible performance.
At the plate, sophomore infielder Travis Warinner tallied two hits while Zeigler, Rimmer, Bartee and York all had one.
After a dramatic victory in game one, the Roughriders struggled to summon the same magic in game two as they fell 15-5.
The Vaqueros took control of things early in game two, scoring seven times in the bottom of the second and four times in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a quick 11-1 lead.
Though the Roughriders were able to scratch five runs across the plate to cut into the lead, Central stayed relentless and scored once in the bottom of the fifth and three times in the bottom of the sixth to win 15-5 in seven innings.
Out of the pen, redshirt-freshman righty Ryan Scott, sophomore righty Jace Taylor, sophomore righty Ethan Bell and freshman lefty Justin Hanson combined for three innings with no earned runs allowed.
Of the 15 Vaquero runs scored, just five were earned as the YC defense conceded four errors in game two.
At the plate, Warinner led the attack with three hits while Zeigler and freshman catcher Cade Westerlund each had two including a solo homer off the bat of Westerlund. Ethan Thomas and Bartee also added a hit apiece to the effort.
The Roughriders are back on the diamond on Tuesday, March 8, in Scottsdale, Arizona, where they will take on the No. 17-ranked Scottsdale Community College Artichokes. First pitch for game one is set for noon.
– D.J. Irwin