Region Finals: Trey Morrill twirls gem in 8-1 win over Central Arizona, Roughriders go for sweep Friday
Junior College Baseball
Updated as of Thursday, May 9, 2019 11:44 PM
PHOENIX — Trey Morrill allowed only one unearned run and struck out 10, Channy Ortiz had three hits and the Yavapai College baseball team took game one of the NJCAA Region I finals in an 8-1 win over Central Arizona on Thursday afternoon.
It is the fifth win in the last six games for the Roughriders (37-17), which are just one win away from a berth into the NJCAA West District Championship Tournament.
Morrill (8-3) needed 111 pitches to get into the eighth inning Thursday and had no problems carving up a Vaqueros lineup that ranks near the bottom nationally in strikeouts (162nd).
“He pounded the strike zone, he was good,” Yavapai College skipper Ryan Cougill said in a phone interview Thursday. “He was throwing fastballs for strikes and expanding the zone when he needed to.”
In 7-1/3 innings pitched, the freshman from Fruita, Colorado, allowed only four hits and walked one to earn the victory.
“I was able to establish my fastball early. And my slider was working, so the fastball-slider combo really helped today,” Morrill said.
He also credited his offense for giving him run support.
“Anytime you get run support like we did today … you can build off that, pitch with a lead and pitch with confidence,” Morrill said.
Offensively, Yavapai pieced together two three-run rallies in the fifth and seventh innings to separate themselves from Central Arizona (40-19) in game one.
In the fifth, Christian Encarnacion-Strand sparked a three-run rally with an RBI single that scored Dalton Daily, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Gianni Tomasi. Matt Novis capped the rally with an RBI double to score Channy Ortiz, making it 5-1.
Novis later doubled and scored on a Logan Williams triple in the seventh to make it 8-1.
Encarnacion-Strand was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored from the leadoff spot, Ortiz was 3 for 4 with two runs scored and Novis was 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Encarnacion-Strand said hitting in the leadoff spot is “new” to him.
“It is what is best for our team and that’s what matters most,” he said via text message Thursday, adding the Roughriders need to keep it light if they are to win tomorrow.
“I think we just need to have fun and keep playing solid baseball,” Encarnacion-Strand said.
Cougill said there was no surprise when his club plated eight runs Thursday against one of the top pitching staffs in the country, at least on paper.
“We worked at bats, ran the bases well and were super aggressive,” Cougill said. “We put a lot of pressure on them.”
Central Arizona pitchers combined to sport a 2.87 ERA before Thursday’s game, which was ninth in the country. They also held lineups to a .217 clip (6th) prior to game one in Phoenix.
The Roughriders scored a total of 45 runs (7.5 per) in six games against Central Arizona this season.
Central Arizona’s only scoring play came in the top of the fourth when Hunter Jump recorded an RBI single to score Emmy Ordonez. The Vaqueros had only six hits as a team and left nine runners on base.
Yavapai and Central Arizona will face each other in game two of the Region I finals Friday at Paradise Valley C.C. in Phoenix.
The Roughriders are expected to send Dominic Hamel (6-4, 3.76 ERA) to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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.
ROUGHRIDER BASEBALL GAMEDAY GLANCE
Who: Central Arizona vs.Yavapai College
What: NJCAA Region I Playoff Finals, Game 2
When: Friday, May 10, 2 p.m.
Where: Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix
Records: Yavapai College (37-17, 24-14 ACCAC) advanced to the championship series by beating South Mountain Community College, 2-1 in a three-game series May 1-3 in Phoenix; Central Arizona (40-19, 24-14 ACCAC) advanced to the title series by sweeping Cochise College in the best of three series, 2-0 in Douglas on May 1 and 2.
All-Time: Yavapai is 87-77 against the Vaqueros.
Last Meeting: Yavapai College won game one of the NJCAA Region I finals 8-1 on Thursday, May 9.
First Ever Meeting: On March 6, 1971, YC swept the Vaqueros, 8-6 and 5-1.
The Setting: The Roughriders are 21-13 away from Roughrider Park this season.
Players to Watch: Yavapai—Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Cody Holtz; Central Arizona – Zach Hogueisson and Ernny Odonez.
Coaches: Yavapai—Ryan Cougill (260-143, 7th season); Central Arizona – Anthony Gillich.
Fun Fact: The winner of this series advances to the NJCAA Western District Finals at a site not yet announced.