Ed Petruska-Contributing writer-Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — Fully aware that its postseason fate was on the line, the Central Arizona College baseball team toughed out two huge wins over Yavapai on Saturday.
"We knew we had to sweep today," CAC coach Anthony Gilich said after the Vaqueros came through with 7-6 and 11-7 victories.
"We're past the point of scoreboard watching. I'm assuming we have to win out."
Central is 34-18 overall and 20-14 in Arizona Community College Athletic Conference play entering the final week of the regular season. The Vaqueros play a doubleheader at last-place Eastern Arizona on Tuesday and host conference leader Cochise on Saturday.
Four teams qualify for the Division I Region 1 tournament. Central was sixth heading into Saturday's action, trailing Cochise (23-9), Yavapai, South Mountain (21-11), Pima (20-11) and Arizona Western (19-13).
Having lost three of their previous four on their home field, the Vaqueros took care of business against Yavapai (31-15, 21-13 ACCAC) by banging out 10 hits in the opener and 11 in Game 2. Central did the bulk of its scoring in bunches, striking for three or more runs five times.
"The bats came out," Gilich said. "Our pitching's been there most of the year but we haven't really hit" on a consistent basis.
Ian Raidy had four RBIs in Game 1, going 2 for 2 with a two-run triple in the second inning and a two-run single in the third. The Vaqueros also got a sacrifice fly in the second from Liam Spence and an RBI single from Jake Meyer in the third.
Yavapai scored four runs in the top of the sixth, making it 7-6 on two-run doubles by Cody Holtz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand.
The Vaqueros took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning of Game 2 on back-to-back RBI doubles by Ernny Ordonez and Hogueisson and Matt Aribal's run-scoring single.
CAC went ahead to stay at 6-4 with a three-run third, getting an RBI double from Meyer and run-scoring singles by Raidy and Spence.
The Vaqueros batted around in a four-run fifth that featured Hogueisson's two-run single, an RBI single by Ordonez and a bases-loaded walk to Aribal.
Brennan Reback's RBI single in the eighth capped the scoring after the Roughriders scored one in the sixth and two in the eighth.
Ordonez, Hogueisson and Meyer each finished with two hits.
The Vaqueros had eight two-out RBIs in the game to help them overcome 15 strikeouts.
Gianni Tomasi had four of Yavapai's 12 hits and two RBIs. Encarnacion-Strand hit a solo home run for the Roughriders, who also got RBI singles from Logan Williams and Jack Silverman.
Gilich elected to not throw his top two starters — Lucas Knowles (8-2, 1.23 ERA) and Jason Nelson (5-2, 1.40). He said both will be available next week.
Game 1 starter Jonathon Stroman went 5 2/3 innings before giving way to Zane Strand, who retired the Roughriders in order in the seventh on two strikeouts and a popup to the catcher.
Four pitchers saw action for CAC in Game 2.
"I knew we were going to have to score some runs and piece it together on the pitching side," Gilich said. "We had some guys in roles that they haven't been in all year."
Mitchell DeCovich made just his second start of the season and allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings. Next came Tyler Woessner (one run in 3 2/3 innings), DJ Carpenter and Brandon Jenkins.
Jenkins faced six batters, striking out the last four. Jenkins closed a game for the first time this year.
"He has the most electric stuff on our team," Gilich said. "He had a rough start (to the season) and needed to get his confidence going. He's been pitching a lot better lately."