CAC bullpen falters in Game 1 loss to Matadors
CAC (39-20) got another solid start from Grant Townsend, as he pitched six innings and allowed three runs on six hits. He struck out seven and walked one, but was pulled after 88 pitches to conserve him for later during this best-of-three series.
If Townsend (10-2, 1.44 ERA) doesn't pitch again in the series, he'll be extra rested for the Western District championship, which begins next Thursday.
Arizona Western (41-19) starter Jayden Murray was a little sharper than Townsend, and he went eight innings, allowing just a single run in the eighth on an RBI single from catcher Chris Diehl. He allowed five hits and a walk and struck out two.
"They just beat us – outpitched us, outhit us," Vaqueros head coach Anthony Gilich said. "[Murray] was tough on us … we couldn't really get a lot going."
It was a rough day for the CAC bullpen, as four pitchers combined to give up five runs in three innings.
Townsend was relieved by Sati Santa Cruz in the top of the seventh, and he allowed three runs on three hits and two walks with one strikeout.
The big blow in the seventh was a two-run triple by Snaider Torrealba that went over the head of right fielder Jake Vander Wal after he misread it off the bat.
Gilich said it was a good opportunity for the bullpen to get some innings, and he liked what he saw from Sam Schroeder, who got two outs in the ninth, including a strikeout, without allowing a baserunner.
What's odd about this series is neither team's season is over if it loses. Whoever wins the series, however, will get home-field advantage for the Western District championship.
Despite that, Gilich said CAC wants to win. The Vaqueros will now have to come back and win two in a row to take the series.
CAC's offense produced seven hits, but didn't get on the board until Diehl's RBI single in the eighth. The Vaqueros had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Ty Johnson grounded sharply into a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Vaqueros added a run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly from Vander Wal, which scored Alix Garcia.
The Matadors scored three runs in the seventh and two in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Johnson and Vander Wal each reached base twice for the Vaqueros – Johnson with a single and a walk, and Vander Wal doubled and walked.
Sean Roby was 3 for 3 with two doubles, a walk and three RBIs for the Matadors.
"We're not cashing it in by any means," Gilich said. "We want to win. We want to be Region 1 champs, we want to host this thing next week, and we want to keep our momentum going – we're playing pretty good right now."
Tomorrow's pitching matchup will be Arizona Western's ace, Eric Ligda (11-3, 2.14) versus Ryley Widell (6-2, 2.36) for CAC. Widell has been very good of late, and Gilich said it could be a low-scoring game.
In his last four starts, Widell has allowed just four earned runs in 27 2/3 innings with 27 strikeouts.