YUMA, Ariz. – Sean Roby mashed a walk-off homer in game one, and Chris Koeiman was almost unhittable in game two for the Arizona Western College baseball team on Tuesday afternoon. The Mats (37-13 overall, 21-9 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) topped Cochise College (34-16 overall, 19-11 ACCAC) 7-5 and 7-0 in a doubleheader in Yuma. The two teams were part of a three-way tie for second place in the conference entering the day. The wins also clinched a playoff spot for AWC.
The sweep gives AWC the tiebreaker over Cochise with six games to play. Four teams make the playoffs, with the top two seeds hosting the first round. Thanks to a season sweep of Central Arizona (the third team in the three-way tie), the Mats own all the head-to-head tiebreakers.
In the first game, the Mats never led until Roby’s homer in the seventh inning. Down 5-4, Snaider Torrealba and Zach Huffins led off with back-to-back singles. Roby smoked a 1-1 pitch, but it was foul. He didn’t miss on the next one and blasted it over the right field wall to win the game. It was his league-leading 14th homer of the year.
AWC started the comeback in the fifth inning by trimming a four-run deficit to one. With two on and no outs, Huffins chopped an RBI double with a ground ball that hugged the third-base line to stay fair. Roby pushed a sacrifice fly deep to center field to score one more, and Huffins scored on a passed ball one batter later to cut the lead to 5-4. Roby went 2-3 with four RBI.
Cochise jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. With one on and one out, George Sutherland hit a bouncer just past a diving Roby at third base for an RBI double. An error at third put runners on the corners with two outs, and Michael Zamora launched a home run to right field for his first homer of the year.
AWC got on the board in the bottom of first. With runners on first and second, Manny Perez hit a grounder that went through Audie Nunez’s legs at short to score the lead runner and cut the lead to 4-1.
Cochise made it 5-1 in the third inning. Zamora lined an RBI single to shallow right field with two outs for his second hit of the game. He went 2-3 with four RBI.
Robert Gonzalez (5-0) came on in relief of Matador starter Irving Martin in the sixth inning, and he struck out four without giving up a hit in two innings of work. Martin was responsible for the five runs, but only two were earned.
Aaron Vernon (1-1) took the loss for Cochise. He allowed three runs on three hits with two strikeouts in 1.0+ innings.
In game two, Koeiman (5-4) threw a one hitter for seven innings and never allowed a runner to reach third base. The freshman walked one and struck out six. He retired seven straight batters to start the game and 10 straight from the fourth through seventh inning.
Meanwhile, the Matador bats gave him all the support he needed in the first inning. AWC batted around and jumped all over Cochise starter Brett Matthews. Huffins and Spencer Packard singled, and Perez knocked in a run with an RBI single. Daylan Nanny loaded the bases with a single, and a passed ball put AWC up 2-0. Sammy Hackl poked an RBI single. With one on and two outs after a runner was caught stealing, Justin Greene smashed a no-doubt home run to right field for a 5-0 lead. It was his sixth homer this year.
Koeiman kept putting up goose eggs, and AWC added two more runs in the fourth. Torrealba doubled down the line, and Roby hit a single to put runners at the corners with one out. Packard hit a grounder to third that was dropped, allowing Torrealba to score and runners at first and second. AWC executed a double steal to send Roby to third and Packard to second, and the throw to third went into the outfield to send Roby home for a 7-0 lead.
Cochise loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but reliever Antoine Villard escaped the jam with a strikeout. Villard struck out two more in the ninth to help end it and secure a three-hitter for AWC. He came on in relief of Koeiman to start the eighth inning.
Matthews (3-2) took the loss for Cochise. He allowed all five runs on seven hits in the first inning.
The Mats are on the road this weekend at Eastern Arizona. The doubleheader starts at noon in Thatcher. Next Tuesday, AWC will host Yavapai in a doubleheader that starts at noon in Yuma.
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. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.