By ED PETRUSKA Contributing Writer Mar 14, 2018 Updated 3 hrs ago (0)
SIGNAL PEAK — With nine shutouts on the season and a team ERA of 2.68, the pitching staff of the Central Arizona College baseball team is every bit as formidable as the Vaqueros' potent offense.
Four pitchers combined for a five-hitter in Wednesday's 7-0 victory over Northeastern, Colorado. It was the second shutout in as many days for Central, which improved to 18-0 in nonconference games and 14-1 at home.
"I was impressed with all four," CAC coach Anthony Gilich said. "The more guys you throw, the harder it is (to register a shutout) because they all have to be sharp."
Jacob Hilton went six innings, allowing four hits. Hilton (4-0, 1.42 ERA) struck out eight and walked three. Working one inning apiece were Grady Miller, former Vista Grande standout Luis Tellechea and Matt Dalke.
Hilton escaped three jams. The Plainsmen left runners at second and third in the third inning, the bases loaded in the fifth and a runner at third in the sixth.
Central's relievers faced the minimum nine batters. Following a leadoff single against Tellechea in the eighth, the next batter grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Miller (seventh) and Dalke (ninth) set down the side in order, each striking out one.
The Vaqueros (25-5 overall) scored an unearned run in the third. They made it 3-0 with two in the fourth off Northeastern starter Zach Demchenko and padded the lead with four runs in the eighth after Demchenko departed with one out.
Central has a team batting average of .347 and averages 9.2 runs per game.
Josh Dudden delivered a two-out, opposite-field RBI double to left in the fourth, then came home on two more wild pitches by Demchenko.
Pinch hitter Clayton Keyes had an RBI single in the eighth, stole second and came around on a double error by the Plainsmen (8-10).
Central resumes Arizona Community College Athletic Conference play on March 20 with a home game against GateWay. The Vaqueros play GateWay again on March 21 at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, then have a home-and-home series against Mesa on March 23 (away) and March 24 (home).
Gilich said CAC's 7-5 ACCAC record "shows how tough our conference is." He noted that three of the losses came on walk-off hits and one was in extra innings — 9-7 at home against South Mountain on Feb. 21.
The upcoming ACCAC schedule appears favorable for the Vaqueros. Of their remaining 24 conference games, 15 are at CAC Field.
"We have a lot of home games coming up and we like playing at home, for sure," Gilich said.
The Vaqueros have been playing well on the road of late, sweeping doubleheaders against Eastern Arizona on March 3 and Glendale on March 10 in their most recent conference confrontations.