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Late rally pushes South Mountain past Roughriders, forcing Game 3 Saturday
Junior College Baseball

Yavapai's Gianni Tomasi makes a dive for the ball in center field March 26 in Prescott. Tomasi had a ball take a ‘weird hop’ in centerfield for an error that led to four runs being scored on one play in a 7-2 loss to South Mountain in Game 2 of the NJCAA Region I Playoff semifinals Friday, May 3, 2019, in Phoenix. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

Yavapai's Gianni Tomasi makes a dive for the ball in center field March 26 in Prescott. Tomasi had a ball take a ‘weird hop’ in centerfield for an error that led to four runs being scored on one play in a 7-2 loss to South Mountain in Game 2 of the NJCAA Region I Playoff semifinals Friday, May 3, 2019, in Phoenix. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a Game 1 recap of the NJCAA Region I Playoff semifinals, click here.

Dominic Hamel solid on the mound, but bullpen and defense struggle late for Yavapai

PHOENIX — Dominic Hamel kept the Yavapai College baseball team within striking distance by allowing only two runs on six innings pitched, but the bullpen didn’t follow suit, imploding late in a 7-2 loss to South Mountain Community College on Friday afternoon.

Relief pitchers Mitchael Dyer and Bobby Meza combined to get only four outs, surrendering five runs (two earned) during an eighth-inning rally by the No. 2-seeded Cougars that put Game 2 of the NJCAA Region I semifinals out of reach for good.

The key play in the eighth came with two outs and the bases full of Cougars in a 3-1 game. South Mountain’s Ricky Munoz recorded a base hit up the middle that would have likely scored two, but found a weird spot in the center field grass and took a bad hop, sailing over Yavapai center fielder Gianni Tomasi’s head.

“The ball just took a weird hop right over him,” Yavapai skipper Ryan Cougill said.

The ball rolled so far past Tomasi that Munoz was able to come all the way around and score, making it a 7-1 game.

Tommy Sacco drove in Christian Encarnacion-Strand with an RBI double in the top of the ninth, but the damage had been done.

Sacco was 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBIs while Encarnacion-Strand had two hits for the No. 3-seeded Roughriders.

Hamel scattered six hits and struck out 11 on 110 pitches before being pulled by Cougill.

“Dom threw great. ... He gave us a chance to win,” Cougill said, adding later, “It was one of those games when our hits didn’t fall, and their’s did. Our ground balls didn’t get through, their’s did.”

On the mound for South Mountain (39-19, 25-13 ACCAC), lefty Cade Povich was lights out, throwing a complete game and allowing two runs on seven hits and nine strikeouts.

“Their kid threw really well,” Cougill said.

J.D. Wadleigh, Justin Quinn and Munoz each had two hits.

CENTRAL-COCHISE

No. 4-seeded Central Arizona College pulled off the upset Friday afternoon, defeating No. 1-seeded Cochise College 13-2 to sweep their half of the Region I Playoff semifinals.

UP NEXT

Yavapai (35-17, 24-14 ACCAC) and the Cougars will now play Game 3 in the best-of-three Region I Playoff semifinal series Saturday in Phoenix on South Mountain’s campus field.

William Sierra (3-1, 4.50 ERA) or Riley Egloff (2-2, 1.89 ERA) are expected to start for the Roughriders.

The winner of Saturday’s game will host Central Arizona in the Region I finals next week. First pitch 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 bbergner@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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