Vaqueros' rally falls short in Game 3 loss to Arizona Western
SIGNAL PEAK — Central Arizona College's comeback attempt fell short in a 7-6 loss to Arizona Western in the rubber match of the Region 1 finals on Saturday.
The Matadors, who won the best-of-three series 2-1, will host the Western District tournament beginning on Thursday. CAC will also advance to the four-team district tournament, which will also include the winners of Region 9 and Region 18.
CAC was down 7-4 in the bottom of the eighth when Brent Bailey reached base on a fielding error. Ty Johnson smacked a double to right field, bringing up Jake Vander Wal with runners in scoring position with no outs. Vander Wal hit a double down the left-field line that barely stayed fair to drive in both runners. The next three batters left him stranded to end the scoring threat.
"I thought the guys fought pretty well," said CAC head coach Anthony Gilich. "They were taking it to us pretty good early, so we kept fighting."
Vander Wal had two of CAC's eight hits against three Western pitchers. The Vaqueros pitching staff was a different story as they dug deep into the bullpen with five pitchers.
Will McAffer started on the mound and tossed three innings, allowing four runs and seven hits. The sophomore right-hander walked one and struck out two. Nick Trogerlic-Iverson also carried a majority of the load, pitching 3 2/3 innings in relief. The freshman allowed two runs and four hits.
"Today was an elimination game, we were playing it like … I mean we're still alive, but we were playing it as such," said Gilich. "Signs of trouble, we had a quick hook and trying to get as many guys in there … trying to find the right guy."
The Vaqueros (40-21) couldn't keep up with Western (42-20) early in the game. The Matadors started off strong with a two-run homer by Sean Roby in the second and tacked on two more runs in the inning for a 4-0 lead.
CAC got one back in the third after Andrew Chartrand singled and took second on a balk. Pikai Duque-Winchester reached base on a throwing error by the shortstop which allowed Chartrand to score, making it a 4-1 ballgame.
Western scored one more run in the fourth, but the Vaqueros responded in the fifth with two runs of their own. Isaiah Garcia led off with a single and took second on a Chartrand walk. Roger Varela singled to center field to score Garcia, and Duque-Winchester followed with a fielder's choice to second that scored Chartrand.
The Vaqueros and the Matadors exchanged runs in the sixth and seventh, both scoring one to make it a 6-4 game.
"That's how fragile the game is … it can go either way," said Gilich. "Just a mistake here or a base hit there and it might be a different story."
Western scored one more in the top of the eighth before the Vaqueros scored two in the bottom of the frame. The score held final after neither team was able to reach base in the ninth.