PHOENIX, Ariz. – A three run lead vanished in the ninth inning, and the Arizona Western College baseball team (46-14) lost on a pinch-hit walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th to South Mountain Community College (46-14) 10-9. The series is tied 1-1.
Ryan McHale led off the bottom of the 10th by driving a 3-2 pitch over the right-centerfield fence for his third homer of the year.
The homer came after South Mountain erased a three-run lead in the ninth with timely hits and a couple Matador mistakes. With runners at second and third and two outs, Carson Burton grounded a single up the middle to score two runs. AWC’s Zach Huffins slipped and missed the ball in center field, and Burton motored to third. A wild pitch to Alonso Bibiano scored Burton to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
AWC took an early lead when Spencer Packard doubled home Huffins in the first inning.
South Mountain responded with an unearned run in the bottom of the first. Juan Colato singled up the middle and took second on an error in centerfield. He went to third on a sacrifice, and a groundout to second by Connor Kimple scored him to tie the game at one.
SMCC took the lead in the second inning. Bibiano walked and went to second on a single by Sam Powers. With two outs, he stole third. When AWC catcher Yodelvy Merendez tried to back-pick Powers at first on the play, the throw popped out of Daylan Nanny’s glove. Bibiano got up and raced home for a 2-1 lead.
In the third, Burton squeezed in a run to put South Mountain up 3-1 with a bunt with runners on first and third.
AWC answered with excellent two-out hitting in the fifth. Manny Perez smacked a ground-ball single up the middle with runners on first and third to score one run, and Justin Greene hit a low line drive single to right field to tie it at three.
The Mats took the lead in the sixth with another two-out rally. After Sean Roby drew a walk to load the bases, Packard hammered a single past a diving Toren Craig at short that scored two runs for a 5-3 lead.
South Mountain answered with a pinch-hit homer to retake the lead in the bottom of the inning. With two on and one out, Jordan Rathbone crushed a three-run bomb to center field to take a 6-5 lead. It was Rathbone’s fourth homer of the season.
AWC answered with four runs in the seventh with yet another two-out rally. Carlos Arellano singled, and Snaider Torrealba was hit by a pitch. Huffins beat out an infield single to load the bases, and it all came with two outs. Sean Roby lined a ball to left field to score two runs, and Spencer Packard doubled off the left-field wall to knock in two more for a 9-6 lead. Packard set a season high with five RBI and went 3-6 with a pair of doubles.
Bryce Mackey (2-0) earned the win after coming on in relief to start the eighth. He did not allow a hit over three innings while striking out four and walking one.
Ramon Miranda (6-2) took the loss for AWC. He allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits while walking one and striking out two in three-plus innings.
The loss snapped a 14-game winning streak for the Mats. The two teams will play tomorrow at noon, and the winner will advance to the West District Finals next week.
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.