Win or go home for Roughriders in playoffs today
PHOENIX — All seemed well for the Yavapai College baseball team late in Game 2 of the NJCAA Region 1, Division I championship series Friday, May 10, at Paradise Valley Community College.
However, the third-seeded Roughriders couldn’t hang on to complete a sweep of No. 4 Central Arizona College, surrendering five runs in the seventh inning to the Vaqueros, who came from behind for a 7-6 victory to force the if-necessary Game 3.
The series is now tied at 1-1. Yavapai won Thursday’s series opener, 8-1.
The Roughriders (37-18 record) will lock horns with Central Arizona (41-19) one more time at noon today, May 11, at Paradise Valley CC to decide the Region 1 champion and the region’s representative for the Western District tournament, which is scheduled for Thursday, May 16, through Saturday, May 18, at the Region 9 champion’s field. (Region 9 comprises the portions of Colorado east of the Continental Divide as well as eastern Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming.)
Yavapai was supposed to host to the region championship series this week, but rainy weather in Prescott forced a change of venue.
On Friday, the Roughriders appeared poised to glide into the West District round with a chance to qualify for the NJCAA D-I Junior College World Series May 25-31 and June 1 at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Yavapai led Central Arizona, 6-2, through six innings before the wheels came off. The Vaqueros scored their five runs on six hits in the seventh. A sacrifice fly with one out provided the tiebreaking run. A hit-by-pitch and a walk in the frame didn’t help matters.
The Roughriders weren’t sharp in the field, either, committing four errors to Central’s two.
On the mound, Dom Hamel started for Yavapai, allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits while striking out eight and walking one in six innings. But it was reliever Riley Egloff who suffered the loss. Egloff surrendered three runs on five hits and walked one in the tide-turning seventh.
Sasha Sneider pitched the final two innings for the Roughirders, striking out three and giving up one hit. He didn’t issue a walk.
At the plate for Yavapai, Tommy Sacco paced the Roughriders, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs and a run scored. Gianni Tomasi (2 for 4, two RBIs, run scored) and Matt Novis (2 for 4, run scored) aided in the effort.
ACCAC D-I Player of the Year Christian Encarnacion-Strand went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Yavapai faces Central Arizona in Game 3 of the best-of-three NJCAA Region 1, Division I championship series at noon today, May 11, at Paradise Valley CC in Phoenix. The winner advances to the NJCAA D-I Western District tournament next week at a site to be determined.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.