Roughriders finally play at home, sweep Paradise Valley for 6th straight win
Junior College Baseball
Encarnacion-Strand collects 6 hits, two HR in sweep; Yavapai to play 18 of next 20 at home
PRESCOTT — Christian Encarnacion-Strand was 3 for 5 with a home run but his two-RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning put the Yavapai College baseball team up for good in a 14-4 rout over Paradise Valley Community College on Tuesday afternoon.
The freshman from Pleasant Hill, California, said he was looking for something “up in the zone” on his game-winning hit.
YC vs Paradise Valley CC Baseball
“He was more of a submarine guy, so I didn’t want to chase the low ball because most of the time they’ll bounce, and he left one up so I got the job done,” Encarnacion-Strand said, who had three RBIs.
Encarnacion-Strand’s single capped a seven-run rally for Yavapai, which played its first 28 games of the season on the road due to field issues before Tuesday’s home opener in Prescott.
“It’s nice. It’s new to us, because we’ve only had a couple of practices on the field,” Encarnacion-Strand said about playing a game for the first time at Roughrider Park this season. “It’s better than traveling, traveling takes a toll.”
The Roughriders made the most of their home field advantage, adding another double-digit scoring mark to their season with a 13-3 win in game two Tuesday for the sweep.
Yavapai (20-10, 12-8 ACCAC) has scored 10 or more runs nine times this season, going a perfect 9-0.
“I think we’re still learning to become a team a little bit, and once we full lock that down, I think that’s when we’ll start making a big impact,” Encarnacion-Strand said.
Other standouts offensively for Yavapai in game one included Matt Novis, who was 1 for 3 but had four RBIs, while Channy Ortiz and Cody Holtz each had two hits and two RBIs in the win.
Tyler Smith surrendered four runs on eight hits and five walks on the mound for the Roughriders and was pulled after 5-1/3 innings pitched.
Encarnacion-Strand added three more hits and another home run in a 13-3 victory over Paradise Valley in game two of a doubleheader Tuesday in Prescott.
Ortiz was 2 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the leadoff spot, Novis added two hits and the Roughriders collected 16 hits and scored three runs in the first, fourth and sixth innings to put the game away.
Trey Morrill threw 99 pitches in seven complete innings, allowing three hits and three runs while striking out six to earn the victory.
Despite playing nearly their entire schedule on the road and having three ACCAC clubs ranked in the Top 20 for much of the season, the NJCAA poll was released Tuesday with Yavapai still not getting a sniff of the rankings.
Former Prescott High School standout Kody Jones was in uniform Tuesday as a relief pitcher for the Pumas and said his first season at the junior college level has gone well.
“JuCo is a totally different world, it’s been an awesome time. I learned this year that I can’t take a pitch off when I’m on the mound, and I have to take everything seriously and be diligent in my work,” Jones said.
Jones, who played basketball and baseball for the Badgers, entered game two in relief and pitched 1-1/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks.
“It’s hard to know that I’m not every part of the game anymore, but it’s also nice to focus on one thing, really work on my craft for that one thing and try to get to the next level.”
With 20 games remaining on the schedule, 18 of which are scheduled to be held at Roughrider Park, the Roughriders prepare to host Langley Blaze in a doubleheader Thursday, March 28. First pitch in game one is set for noon.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is news/sports editor for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.