Matching up with the South Mountain Cougars in a Saturday afternoon ACCAC doubleheader, the Yavapai College baseball team split its games in Phoenix, losing 6-5 in game one and winning game two 11-3. Overall, the Roughriders are now 8-7-1 with a 2-4 mark in conference play.
After two scoreless innings, the Roughriders jumped out to a 3-0 lead in game one in the top of the third inning on an RBI single off the bat of freshman infielder Rocco Gump and two-run homer from redshirt-sophomore outfielder Sean Rimmer.
In the top of the fifth, YC tacked on another run as redshirt-sophomore outfielder Amari Bartee singled, moved to third on a couple of sacrifices and scored on a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars rallied and pushed four runs across to tie the game at 4-4 with just one inning left to play.
After seeing their lead evaporate, the Roughriders pieced together a rally of their own as sophomore infielder Kade York doubled to lead off the top of the seventh and moved to third on a sacrifice from Gump. Sophomore infielder JT Taylor then gave YC the lead on a squeeze bunt that pushed York home.
Up 5-4 and with their second lead of the game, the Roughriders unfortunately saw the Cougars score twice in the bottom of the seventh inning for the 6-5 walk-off victory.
At the plate, Taylor tallied two hits while Bartee, York, Gump, Rimmer and sophomore outfielder Brycen Tambone all finished with one.
Dismayed with game one’s walk-off loss, Yavapai showed no signs of weakness and got to work quickly in game two. In the top of the first, the Roughriders pushed two runs across on an RBI single from Rimmer and RBI groundout from Gump.
Up 2-0 in the top of the second and with sophomore catcher Alton Gyselman standing on first base (after singling) with two outs, the Roughriders pieced together a seven-run rally to take a 9-0 lead.
After a run scored on an error to make it 3-0 in the top of the second, Rimmer, Bartee and sophomore infielder Travis Warinner all notched two-out two-run singles to put the contest out of reach.
Despite South Mountain pushing three runs across in the bottom of the second, the Riders scored insurance runs in the fourth and fifth innings and received six shutout innings from their bullpen to preserve the 11-3 victory.
Redshirt-sophomore lefty Cal Lambert started game two and went three innings with an impressive eight strikeouts while allowing three runs.
Freshman righty Jackson Thomas took the ball from Lambert and tossed three scoreless innings to bridge the gap to the later innings. After Thomas, freshman lefty Justin Hanson and sophomore righty’s Ben Staiger and Tyler Davis all pitched scoreless innings, respectively, and notched two strikeouts apiece.
At the plate, Rimmer led the way with three hits, Gyselman had two and freshman utility man Ben Zeigler, Tambone, Bartee and Warinner all had one.
The Roughriders are back on the diamond on Tuesday, March 1, in Thatcher, Arizona, where they will play the Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters in an ACCAC doubleheader. Game one’s first pitch is set for noon.
– D.J. Irwin