THATCHER, Ariz. – The Roughriders headed south on Tuesday afternoon and left Thatcher, Arizona, with a split against the Eastern Arizona College Gila Monsters, winning game one 5-4 and losing game two 3-2. Overall, Yavapai moves to 9-8-1 on the season with a 3-5 record in ACCAC games.
The first ballgame of the day for the Roughriders started slow, but proved to be a thriller in the later innings.
After four and a half scoreless innings and not much offense from either team, the Gila Monsters pieced together a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding lead heading into the sixth inning.
Yavapai, however, responded with an even bigger rally in the top half of the sixth. Redshirt-sophomore outfielder Amari Bartee singled to start things off, stole second base and then came around to score YC’s first run on an RBI single from freshman infielder Ethan Thomas.
Sophomore catcher Alton Gyselman followed Thomas with a single and sophomore infielder Travis Warinner rifled an RBI single to center to follow Gyselman. Freshman outfielder Jude Hall (running for Gyselman) and Warinner also moved up to third and second base, respectively, on the throw in from the outfield on Warinner’s single.
After sophomore outfielder Brycen Tambone reached on an error to load the bases with one out, sophomore infielder Jo Stevens (already with two hits on the day) stepped up to the plate and delivered a game-tying two-run single to right field that also sent Tambone to third.
With runners at the corners, sophomore infielder Kade York followed Stevens with a perfectly-executed suicide-squeeze bunt that brought Tambone in for the go-ahead run.
Leading 5-4, sophomore righty Ethan Bell pitched a scoreless sixth inning and fellow sophomore righty Tyler Davis pitched a scoreless seventh inning to lock down the save and secure the 5-4 victory.
Some style points were also added on to the win as Gyselman gunned down a Gila Monster trying to steal third base to end the game.
Not to be overlooked, freshman utility man Ben Zeigler got the start for the Roughriders in game one and tossed five solid innings while only giving up one earned run.
Offensively, Stevens led the attack with three hits while Bartee and Thomas each had two. Tambone, York, Gyselman and Warinner all finished game one with one hit apiece.
Slated for a nine-inning affair in game two, the Roughriders ultimately fell in extra innings on a walk-off single in the 10th inning in game two.
Eastern struck first in the bottom of the third, taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI single. Yavapai wasted no time in countering as redshirt-sophomore outfielder Sean Rimmer launched a solo homer to lead off the fourth and tie the game.
Later in the top of the fourth, the Riders took a 2-1 lead on a steal of home from freshman infielder Alex Ulloa while Ethan Thomas stole second.
The Roughrider bats were stymied the rest of the afternoon and the Gila Monsters tied the game up in the seventh and eventually won in the 10th with a 3-2 final score.
Freshman utility man Barrett Skaugrud got the start in game two and tossed six innings, struck out six and allowed just four hits and one run. Sophomore righty Jace Taylor and freshman lefty Justin Hanson also logged scoreless appearances out of the bullpen.
At the plate, Rimmer tallied three hits while Bartee, Thomas and Warinner all had one.
The Roughriders are back at home on Saturday, March 5, where they will take on the No. 1-ranked Central Arizona College Vaqueros. Game one’s first pitch is slated for noon.
– D.J. Irwin