YUMA, Ariz---Runs were at a premium but two clean defensive performances led to the #11 Arizona Western Matadors(9-2 overall, 2-0 ACCAC) sweeping the South Mountain Cougars (2-4 overall, 2-4 ACCAC) by scores of 2-1 and 3-0 Thursday afternoon at Kammann Field.
Mckenzie Gray retired the first nine Cougars while making the start for Arizona Western in game one, but the offense left six runners on in the first three innings.
South Mountain starter Christian Stewart navigated out of numerous threats through the first four innings to keep the game tied at zero.
It wasn't until Emilia Noriega pinch hit in the bottom of the fifth and blasted a two-strike pitch over the left field fence to give the Matadors a 1-0 lead.
But the lead held up for just a few outs as Ali Ashner deposited a pitch from Gray over the center field fence in the top of the sixth.
Both teams went to their other arm in the seventh with Ana Grijalva mowing through South Mountain and Vanessa Gutierrez send the game to the seventh. With the international tie-breaker in effect, Grijalva worked seemelessly in the eighth without surrendering the run. In the bottom of the eighth, Alyssa Darby moved the runner over before Cassandra Valle ripped the ball down the third base line to give Arizona Western the 2-1 win.
In game two, Grijalva and Gutierez squared off again, this time as starters.
Grijalva continued to rip through the South Mountain lineup, only surrendering hits to Ashner, but retired the other eight batters in order twice.
The Matador offense broke through in the second when Chloe Garcia singled up the middle to start the inning and Noriega followed suit. Nylze Salazar drove home a run as did Azalea Moore for a 2-0 lead.
The Mats added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Nicole Zendejas singled home Reina Tsuma with two-outs to widen the lead to 3-0.
It proved plenty for Grijalva who closed out her second win of the day to improve to 5-1 on the year. On the day, Grijalva tossed nine scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and two walks and struck out 12.
Gutierrez is saddled with both losses on the afternoon.
There is little down time for Arizona Western, winners of seven in a row, who will have Friday off. The Matadors are back in action at Charlie Dine Field for a big Region I, Division I matchup with the Yavapai RoughRiders. The double-header will begin at 11:00am in Yuma on Saturday.