YUMA, Ariz. – Two late rallies fell short on Friday afternoon for the Arizona Western baseball team in the West District Tournament. The Mats couldn’t get their offense in gear with runners in scoring position and fell to Central Arizona 4-1 and Southern Nevada 6-4. The losses eliminated them from postseason play.
The Mats wrapped up the most successful season since 1996 and hosted the District Finals for the first time in team history. They claimed the Region I Title for the first time since that 1996 season after toppling Central Arizona on the road last weekend.
In the second game against Southern Nevada, AWC (43-22) pounded out 20 hits to set a season high, but the team left 17 men on base in the game. Down 5-0 in the eighth inning, the Mats finally broke through with the bases loaded and two outs. Sean Roby smoked a two-run double down the left field line that chopped the lead to 5-2.
CSN (43-16) answered with a run in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Cody Milner that pushed the lead out to four.
AWC rallied in a wild bottom half of the inning. Manny Perez led off by ripping a double to left-center field. Najee Gaskins hit a slow roller to third, and the throw to first went underneath CSN’s Justin Lutes. Perez raced for third and was safe under the throw. CSN threw back to first after Gaskins rounded the bag, and it went wide. Perez took off for home, and Gaskins made it to third as the ball rolled out of play. Gaskins scored on a sacrifice fly by Franky Chavez that cut the lead to 6-4. After Riker singled, CSN pulled Blake Inouye off the mound to send on Dan Skelly. Skelly then walked Torrealba to put runners at first and second with one out. Daniel Lafarga hit a low screamer that Jordan Macias caught by his shoestrings at third before throwing to second to get Riker for a game ending double play.
The Mats had chances throughout after putting runners on base in every inning. Southern Nevada managed to wiggle out each time with timely plays.
CSN also created early chances, but the Coyotes were able to break through in the fourth inning. Dillon Johnson led off with a triple to center field, and Milner grounded out to score him from third.
The Coyotes took advantage of a mistake in left field to take a two-run lead in the fifth. Lutes reached and went to third on the play, and Blake Wiggins double him home.
In the top of the sixth, Milner walked. Nicco Festa popped up a bunt, but the Mats couldn’t make a diving catch. The throw to first went wide, and it allowed Milner to score while sending Festa to third. Jay Martz hit a single up the middle to score him, and a few batters later Lutes scored Martz to push the lead to 5-0.
Todd Danzeisen (9-1) won the game for CSN after dancing around 14 hits in 6.2 innings while walking one and striking out two without allowing a run. Skelly recorded his first save of the season.
Irving Martin (8-4) took the loss after allowing six runs, four earned, on 13 hits with three walks and two strikeouts in nine innings.
AWC played Central Arizona in a tight one during the middle of the day. The Vaqueros took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Jake Vander Wal scored Alix Garcia with a single.
In the bottom half of the inning, Vander Wal robbed Roby of a solo home run to right field with a grab at the top of the wall.
The Mats had a chance in the seventh with two on and two out, but Vander Wal made a leaping snag to rob Gaskins of an RBI single that would have tied the game.
In the eighth, CAC took a 2-0 lead when Isaiah Garcia led off with a solo home run to right field for his first homer of the season.
The Vaqueros extended the lead in the ninth inning with a two-run single by Garcia that pushed the lead to 4-0.
AWC broke through in the bottom half of the inning. Yodelvy Merendez led off with a double and went to third when Perez singled. Najee Gaskins hit a grounder to second for an RBI fielder’s choice. Riker hit a ground rule double that would have scored Gaskins if it stayed in the park, but the Mats grounded out to third to end the game one batter later.
AWC left 10 on base during the game.
Ryley Widell (8-2) earned the win for CAC after striking out eight in 7.2 innings. He allowed five hits and three walks but didn’t surrender a run.
Eric Ligda (11-5) gave up four runs, three earned, on 10 hits in 8.2 innings. He walked two while striking out four.
In the first game of the day, Southern Nevada won a 1-0 thriller over Trinidad State. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the ninth. Joey O’Brien singled and went to second on a groundout. Back-to-back wild pitches allowed him to score. The loss eliminated Trinidad State.
Isaiah Blaylock (9-3) earned the win in that one with a complete game, nine inning effort for Southern Nevada. Donavin Buck (3-4) took the loss for Trinidad State.
Southern Nevada will take on Central Arizona at noon tomorrow in the District Finals.
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 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.