The Yavapai College baseball team welcomed the Arizona Christian University Firestorm to Roughrider Park on Friday afternoon and left the ballpark with a sweep, winning game one 10-3 and game two 14-6. Now on an eight-game win streak, the Roughriders are 18-9-1 overall this season with a 10-6 conference record.
Early and often was the offensive theme of the day for the Roughriders and sophomore utility man JT Taylor helped lead the charge throughout the day.
Taylor started game one with a bang as he homered in the bottom of the first to lead the game off and give the Riders a quick 1-0 lead. After a web gem at third base in the top of the second, Taylor was at it again with the bat in the bottom of the third as he shot an RBI single to right field to drive in redshirt-freshman outfielder Jack Nehls who doubled to lead off the frame.
Later in the inning, redshirt-sophomore outfielder Sean Rimmer skyed an RBI double to left field and later scored on a two-out two-RBI double off the bat of freshman infielder Alex Ulloa.
Up 5-0, Yavapai tacked on a run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single off the bat of freshman utility man Ben Zeigler.
The Firestorm cut the Yavapai lead to 6-2 with runs in the top of the fifth and sixth , however, YC put the game out of reach in a big way in the bottom of the sixth.
After singles from Nehls and Taylor and a walk from freshman utility man Barrett Skaugrud, Zeigler stepped up to the plate and launched a monster grand slam to right field to give the Roughriders a 10-2 lead.
Arizona Christian plated a run in the top of the seventh to bring the final score of game one to 10-3.
Freshman righty Jackson Thomas registered the start in game one and pitched five solid innings in which he allowed just one run, five hits and struck out four to earn the victory. Redshirt-freshman righty Ryan Scott took over for Thomas and pitched the final two innings and notched two strikeouts.
At the plate, Taylor went 3-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs, four runs scored and two stolen bases while Zeigler went 3-for-3 with a homer, five RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Ulloa and Nehls each had two hits with both of Ulloa’s being doubles (he also added a stolen base) and Rimmer finished with one hit.
The Firestorm took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning of game two, however, the Roughriders responded in similar fashion to game one.
After sophomore infielder Travis Warinner rifled a single through the left side to start the bottom half of the frame, Taylor came to the plate and quickly tied things up with a two-run homer to right field for his second first-inning homer of the day.
Sophomore infielder Jo Stevens doubled after Taylor and later came around to score on an RBI double off the bat of Ulloa.
In the top of the third, Arizona Christian tied the ballgame at 3-3 with an RBI groundout.
In the bottom of the third, the Roughriders took the lead once more, capitalizing on some sloppy defense combined with a two-run homer to right-center off the bat of sophomore catcher Alton Gyselman.
Down 6-3, the Firestorm didn’t blink and tied the game up again in the top of the fourth with a solo homer and two-run homer.
The seesaw battle continued in the bottom half of the fourth as freshman infielder Ethan Thomas helped Yavapai re-take the lead for the third time in game two with an RBI double to left. The next batter (Ulloa) made it an 8-6 ballgame with a double to left as well.
Yavapai scratched another run across in the bottom of the fifth for a 9-6 lead and kept the Firestorm off the scoreboard in the top of the sixth to head into the bottom of the frame with a three-run lead.
Rimmer and Gyselman then singled to lead the frame off with Rimmer scoring on a passed ball for a 10-6 lead. Taylor then singled in a run before another run came across on some sloppy ACU defense to make it 12-6 in favor of YC.
Freshman infielder Rocco Gump capped off the frame with a two-run homer to right-center field to turn the ballgame into a blowout and give YC a 14-6 lead which wound up being the final score as ACU was held scoreless in the top of the seventh.
Sophomore righty Ethan Bell closed the game with two scoreless innings in which he struck out four and allowed just one hit. Freshman lefty Justin Hanson got the start and went 2.2 innings with four strikeouts, before handing the ball to sophomore righty Jace Taylor who went 2.1 innings with four strikeouts as well.
Warinner, Taylor, Thomas, Ulloa and Gyselman all had two hits in game two while Stevens, Gump and Rimmer all had one.
The Roughriders are back on the diamond tomorrow (March 19) at home against the Langley Blaze. The doubleheader starts at noon.
– D.J. Irwin