Ed Petruska-Contributing writer/Pinal Central
SIGNAL PEAK — If not for the pitching of Calvin Schapira, Central Arizona College likely wouldn't have been in position to win Game 1 of Tuesday's baseball doubleheader against Cochise in walk-off fashion.
Kiko Romero delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Vaqueros edged the Apaches 2-1. Schapira retired the final 13 batters in going the distance, registering eight of his 12 strikeouts during that stretch.
Cochise defeated Central 6-3 in the second game. Both teams are 10-4 overall and 3-1 in Arizona Community College Athletic Conference play.
The lone run off Schapira (2-0) came in the third, and it was unearned. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound left-hander has a 0.00 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings pitched.
"Our defense kept us in there, and (catcher Ryan) Grabosch called a great game behind the plate," Schapira said. "It felt good to give my team a chance, and it was a good team win for sure."
Cochise collected just three hits off Schapira, the last being a one-out single by Nate Rohlicek in the third. Rohlicek stole second and continued to third on an error before coming home on a two-out wild pitch.
Schapira got an inning-ending strikeout following a pair of two-out walks, then retired the Apaches in order the rest of the way. He struck out the side in the seventh.
"I tried to slow things down and trust my stuff," Schapira said. "I hit my spots with the fastball and executed with (sliders and changeups) when I needed to."
After stranding a runner at third base in the second and fourth innings, the sixth-ranked Vaqueros tied it in the fifth. Cochise starter Treyjan Meza issued a leadoff walk to Matt Aribal, who stole second and came around on Zack Stewart's single.
Kyle Morrison relieved Meza with two outs in the fifth and set down six consecutive batters before Coby Boulware reached second on a two-out throwing error in the seventh. Romero followed with a single to left for CAC's fourth hit of the game.
Schapira "has been great all year," CAC coach Anthony Gilich said. "We didn't score a lot for him, but he did a good job of holding the score down."
The Vaqueros finished with eight hits in Game 2, as did Cochise. The Apaches scored single runs in the first and fourth innings off CAC starter Liam Evans and two unearned runs in the sixth off Tyler Woessner to take a 4-0 lead. After Central put up single runs in the sixth and seventh to narrow the margin to 4-2, Cochise tacked on two in the ninth off Shane Spencer.
Romero had two hits for the Vaqueros, including an RBI double in the sixth that drove in Tyler Kelly. Ricky Gutierrez-Meier scored on an error in the seventh, and Brandham Ponce came home on a double play in the ninth.
"Our offense needs to get better," Gilich said. "We had multiple chances to score in both games, but we didn't execute in situational hitting."
Former Vista Grande High School standout Marco Ozuna pitched two innings in relief of Cochise starter Joseph Sinclair, who went six-plus. Rohlicek worked the ninth for the Apaches.
"I'm a little disappointed, especially because we had a chance to sweep them," Gilich said. "We never plan on splitting, especially at home."