Ed Petruska-Contributing Writer Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Undoubtedly, the Central Arizona College baseball team was nowhere near being in peak form during most of Wednesday's home game against GateWay.
The Vaqueros still found a way to scratch out a 7-6 victory, surviving five errors that led to four unearned runs for the Geckos, seven walks issued by the pitching staff and four outs on the basepaths.
"It definitely wasn't clean. We kind of got in our own way quite a bit," CAC coach Anthony Gilich said. "But we bailed ourselves out. You never have to apologize for a win."
The Vaqueros (13-6, 4-2 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) fell behind 3-2 and 5-4 before going ahead to stay on a three-run double by Jacob McKeon in the seventh inning. McKeon was down to his last strike when he smoked a two-out shot down the left-field line.
Daniel Cervantes smacked a two-run, opposite-field homer to right in the fourth that gave the Vaqueros a 4-3 lead. Central scored two in the first, getting an RBI double from Ernny Ordonez and Zach Hogueisson's run-scoring single.
Dakota Donovan recorded his second save in as many days, retiring three of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning. Donovan, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound right-hander, pitched two scoreless innings in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over GateWay (8-13, 3-5 ACCAC) at Gene Autry Park in Mesa.
CAC starter Avery Jones allowed three runs (one earned) and six hits in four innings. Jonathan Stroman and Jason Nelson both worked one inning, and Zane Strand (2-0) pitched the seventh and the eighth.
GateWay tied it 4-4 in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Josh Wunnenburg. The Geckos went up 5-4 in the seventh on a two-out throwing error that scored Gary Mattis, who led off with a double.
CAC's go-ahead rally in the seventh began with one out when pinch hitter Luke Schwartz was hit by a pitch from GateWay reliever Luis Montenegro. Clayton Keyes and Ordonez then drew two-out walks, setting the stage for McKeon.
The Vaqueros did have their moments on defense, the most significant being a pickoff throw by catcher Jake Meyer to third baseman Ordonez that ended the top of the sixth. The Geckos had the bases loaded at the time following three walks.
"We've been working on that play, and it was perfectly executed," Gilich said. "It got us out of a huge jam."
Meyer also threw out two runners attempting to steal.
Gilich said CAC's lack of defensive cohesion is due in part to injuries that have forced him to juggle his lineup.
"We haven't quite found our rhythm just yet," he said.
The Vaqueros finished with seven hits off four GateWay pitchers.
The Geckos had 10 hits, including RBI singles by Josh Glenn in the first and Randy Hutson in the second. Getting two hits apiece were Mattis, Antoine Mistico, Wunnenburg and Glenn.
Both teams had at least one baserunner in each of their at-bats.
Central plays Scottsdale on Thursday in a 2 p.m. home game. It is a makeup of last Friday's game that was postponed due to wet field conditions. The Artichokes are ranked No. 10 in the NJCAA Division II poll.