YUMA, Ariz. – With light running low, JC Navarro brightened the day with a walk-off hit off of the right field fence that netted the Arizona Western Matadors (13-9 overall, 4-6 ACCAC) a split of Tuesday’s double-header against the #4 Yavapai RoughRiders (19-3 overall, 10-2 ACCAC) at Kammann Field.
The two-teams were on the field six and a half hours after they started the day while exchanging scoring innings like haymakers throughout the combined 17 innings of baseball.
It started as a pitcher’s duel in game one between the Matador’s Joseph Taveras and the RoughRider’s Trey Morrill.
Neither team allowed a base-runner through the first two innings before Taveras hit Jacob Robson with a pitch. CJ Valdez promptly plated the first run with a double down the right field line and quickly scored on Willie Cano’s RBI single.
The Matador’s responded without leaving the infield. Jose Paula walked with one out and Ivan Medina tried to sacrifice him over to second, but Morrill mishandled the bunt to put both runners on. Paula eventually stole third before a wild pitch brought him home.
Arizona Western finally tallied a hit and left the infield in one swing as Delano Selassa tied the game with a single.
The game remained tied at 2 until the sixth when the league’s leading hitter Christian Encarnacion-Strand blasted a solo homer of the left field fence to start the sixth.
Yavapai added two more in the inning on Cam Jowaiszas and Ethan Snodgrass’s RBI singles.
Yavapai would add one more in the seventh. Trey Morrill closed out the ball game with five scoreless innings the rest of the way, finishing a complete game, to give Yavapai a 6-2 win.
Game two started almost identically with neither team mustering offense against AWC’s Elvis Parra or Taisei Yahiro of YC.
It took until one out in the bottom of the third for the RoughRider defense to crack as Jose Paula reached on an error by Encarnacion-Strand at third. Daniel Gonzalez placed a bunt single before Jarrod Belbin was walked to load the bases.
Selassa delivered a two run single before Navarro added an RBI knock. Two batters later Oliver Frias singled home Navarro, for a four run inning that would lead the end of Yahiro’s outing.
Parra continued to cut through the Yavapai lineup until the fifth. After notchin his season best ninth strikeout, Parra saw Amari Bartee reach on an error in the infield. Bartee stole second and moved to third on a balk. Parra walked the next two to load the bases and appeared to induce an inning-ending double-play but an errant throw to first not only scored the runner from third, but brought home the runner from second as well.
Ramon Ramirez entered the game as a pinch-hitter and singled up the middle, knocking Parra out of the ballgame. Cano doubled home Ramirez to tie the game at four.
Francisco Gonzalez kept the game tied out of the Matador bullpen matching zeroes with John Neely into the eighth.
Yavapai grabbed the lead in the eighth after Bartee singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Josh Romero’s sacrifice bunt scored Bartee, making it 5-4.
Navarro answered back in the bottom of the inning with a single and advanced to second as the RoughRiders dropped a potential double-play ball. After Frias singled, Anthony Guzman tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
That pushed the second game into extra innings and remained tied at 5 until Encarnacion-Strand’s sac fly put Yavapai up 6-5 in the 11th.
Jeandro Tromp led off the Matador half of the inning by drawing a walk. Riley Egloff came in to pitch for the RoughRiders at that point as Ivan Medina came in as a pinch runner and made it to second when Paula’s potential double-play was dropped by Cano at second base. Daniel Gonzalez laid down the sacrifice and Jarrod Belbin was intentionally walked.
Yavapai had another potential double-play as Selassa grounded to third and the throw got Belbin at second. But the throw to first was a tad late and unable to be dugout, putting Selassa at first and scoring Medina to tie the game.
That brought up Navarro who quickly drove Egloff’s offering halfway up the right field fence, easily scoring Paula for the winning run.
The win continues a trend of Arizona Western splitting conference double-headers for the fourth straight time while snapping the 12 game winning streak of the fourth ranked RoughRiders.
Wilmer Flores earned the win for Arizona Western after getting the Matadors out of the 11th. Egloff was handed his second loss of the year.
Arizona Western is back in action Saturday at Kammann Field hosting Glendale for a double-header beginning at noon.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma.