Ed Petruska-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Often times in baseball, the little stuff can lead to big things.
Such was the case for Central Arizona College in Tuesday's 10-1 home victory over GateWay. Two bunts and a run-scoring fielder's choice helped fuel a five-run third inning for the Vaqueros, who have won five straight Arizona Community College Athletic Conference games and 10 straight overall.
"We executed, and it led to a big inning," CAC coach Anthony Gilich said. "Then we kept adding on and kind of buried them."
Central (27-5, 8-5 ACCAC) tacked on two runs in the fourth inning and single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth. The Vaqueros, ranked No. 12 in the NJCAA Division I poll, collected 12 hits off four GateWay pitchers.
CAC starter Nick Trogerlic-Iverson went seven innings and held the Division II Geckos (15-17, 9-10 ACCAC) to one run and four hits. The right-hander struck out nine, walked three and hit one in raising his record to 5-1 while lowering his ERA to 2.14. Trogerlic-Iverson has pitched a team-high 46 1/3 innings this season.
"He wasn't as sharp as he's usually been in the beginning of the game (GateWay left the bases loaded in the first), but he kind of got in a rhythm and settled in," Gilich said.
Matt Dalke kept the Geckos off the board in the final two frames, striking out four while walking two and hitting one. The right-hander has a 0.71 ERA in 11 appearances.
"Our pitching has been outstanding lately … all year really," Gilich said.
The CAC staff has a 2.63 ERA and just missed notching its 10th shutout.
The top three batters in Central's lineup (Brennan Reback, Liam Spence and Jake Vander Wal) each drove in two runs, as did Ernny Ordonez. Alix Garcia hit his third home run of the year, a solo shot leading off the fifth.
GateWay starter DJ Wyman retired CAC's first six batters before Cervantes singled leading off the bottom of the third. Chris Diehl followed with a sacrifice bunt and Harris singled. Harris continued to second when the throw to the plate was not cut off.
Then came Reback's run-scoring grounder, a perfectly executed safety squeeze bunt by Spence and Vander Wal's RBI single.
Ordonez — the ACCAC D-I player of the week for March 12-17 — delivered a two-run triple to chase Wyman following a single by Garcia.
Cervantes doubled leading off the fourth, took third on a balk by Jordan Schiefer and scored on a wild pitch. Reback's RBI single later in the inning made it 7-0.
Vander Wal had a two-out RBI single in the sixth off Austen Martinez. Spence drove in CAC's final run with an eighth-inning single off Garrett Redaja.
Sam Schroeder's run-scoring groundout in the GateWay fifth came after a leadoff single by Joey Martinez and Jake Desiderio's two-out double.
The Vaqueros are 3-0 against the Geckos this season. Central swept GateWay 5-0 and 14-4 in a nonconference doubleheader on Feb. 3 at CAC. The teams play a single game Wednesday at Gene Autry Park in Mesa.
CAC has another home-and-home series this week, against Mesa on Friday (away) and Saturday (home). The Thunderbirds are ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA Division II poll.