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CAC edged by South Mountain

Jason Nelson loses first game but throws very well. Strikes out 10 in 5.1 innings Friday.
Jason Nelson loses first game but throws very well. Strikes out 10 in 5.1 innings Friday.

CAC edged by South Mountain
By BRIAN WRIGHT Sports Editor Apr 20, 2018 Pinal Central

Photos by: Oscar Perez Pinal Central

SIGNAL PEAK — Mistakes and missed opportunities are always magnified against good teams.

The Central Arizona College baseball team rallied but came up just short in a 6-5 home loss to conference leader South Mountain on Friday.

CAC (40-11, 20-11 ACCAC) trailed 5-1 in the seventh inning but cut the lead to 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Reagan Teegarden beat out a bunt single to reach base as the tying run.

Daniel Cervantes came to the plate with a chance to extend the inning, but Tallon Thomason got him to strike out swinging.

The dugout emptied for South Mountain (41-10, 28-3), as players mobbed Thomason, bouncing up and down and yelling.

The missed opportunities were disappointing for Vaqueros coach Anthony Gilich.

"We had our best hitter up with the bases loaded in the eighth … (he) hit it fairly hard to first; we had a chance there to score some runs," he said. "We had a missed play in left, that's a routine fly ball that probably should have been caught; that cost us a run. A couple of those things burned us."

CAC sent seven batters to the plate in the eighth but scored just one run and left the bases loaded. With two outs in the inning, Ernny Ordonez hit a hard ground ball down the first base line, but it was scooped up for an out.

The only run in the inning came on a sacrifice fly from Brennan Reback, which scored Daniel Cervantes who had reached on a fielder's choice.

Cougars shortstop Toren Craig made some slick plays on defense throughout the game, taking away some hits from the Vaqueros.

Vaqueros starter Jason Nelson was dominant, striking out 10 in 5 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on five hits.

"He's been great all year," Gilich said. "(He pitched) good enough to win … he was about maxed out (on his pitch count), and heading into the playoffs I don't want to burn anybody out. He's going to be a guy we're going to have to rely on."

The Cougars broke open the game with three runs in the seventh. A hard chopper down the first base line from Carson Burton got by Vaqueros first baseman Alix Garcia, and it scored two runs.

Gilich thought the ball was foul and argued the call to the umpire. The next batter was Alonso Bibiano, who doubled home Burton.

CAC put together a rally in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three of its own. Liam Spence had an RBI double, Ordonez followed with a run-scoring single, and Jake Vander Wal crushed an RBI double that short-hopped the wall in left center.

Vander Wal was 3 for 5, and Ordonez, Teegarden and Reback had two hits apiece.

With just five games left in the regular season, including another home game against South Mountain on Saturday, Gilich said his team can play better.

"We came out of the gates (early in the season) playing really well. Right now, I think we're playing just OK," he said. "I'll be interested to see how we bounce back today against [South Mountain]. We handled them pretty good at their place last time we played, and so hopefully we'll get the same outcome."

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