YUMA, Ariz. – Two outs, no problem on Friday afternoon for the Arizona Western College baseball team. The Mats (45-13) knocked in seven runs with two outs to squeeze out an 8-5 win over Central Arizona College (45-13) and advance to the Region I Championship against South Mountain next week. Sean Roby swatted home five runs for the Mats, including a three-run blast in the fourth inning that proved to be the difference and power the Mats to their 13th straight win.
Roby’s homer erased a 5-4 deficit, and it capped a two-out rally in the fourth inning. Snaider Torrealba and Zach Huffins both singled, and Roby smashed a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence for a 7-5 lead. It was his 17th homer of the year.
From that point on, the bullpens took over. After combining for 12 runs through four innings, the two teams mustered up one run in the final five.
AWC took the lead on a bang-bang play in the second inning. With two on and two outs, Carlos Arellano sent a low screaming line drive up the middle, and it bounced off the foot of Central Arizona’s starter, RJ Dabovich. Arellano won the footrace to first, and the Mats took a 1-0 lead. Dabovich tried to walk it off, but he walked Snaider Torrealba to load the bases and Zach Huffins to plate a run. Roby then looped a two-run single to right-center to put the Mats up 4-0. Jason Nelson came on in relief to get out of the inning for CAC.
Central Arizona answered with a two-out rally in the third inning. With runners on first and third and two outs, Alix Garcia knocked a line drive to left field for an RBI single. Armando Aguilar followed it up with a hard grounder up the middle that scored another run and cut the lead to 4-2.
In the fourth, Central drew two walks to put runners at first and second with one out. Liamm Spence singled in a run to cut the Matador lead to 4-3. With two outs, Jake Vander Wal hit a popup to shallow center field, but Arellano dropped it, and both baserunners scored to put CAC up 5-4.
Already up 7-5 thanks to Roby’s homer in the fourth, the Mats added one run in the seventh. With runners at first and third and no outs, Manny Perez grounded a double play ball up the middle, but the run scored from third for the final tally.
The Matador bullpen was outstanding to help secure the win. Robert Gonzalez (7-0) came on in relief of starter Chris Koeiman in the fourth inning and only allowed four hits and a walk in 4.2 innings. The left-hander struck out a season-high seven while only walking one. The two runs he allowed were unearned.
Ramon Miranda earned his first save of the year. He relieved Gonzalez and pitched the final four outs without giving up a hit while walking one and striking out three.
Nelson (5-2) took the loss for Central Arizona. He went 4.1 innings and gave up four runs, three earned, on three hits with one strikeout and five walks.
Arizona Western advances to the Region I Championship for the second straight year, and the Mats will be on the road at South Mountain next weekend. Game one of the best-of-three series will be next Thursday afternoon.
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.