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Sanchez hits game-winner, Matadors split with Yavapai
In a pair of games with a shortage of hits, Angel Sanchez had the biggest one for Arizona Western in Game 1 of a doubleheader split with Yavapai on Tuesday at Kammann Field.
In Game 2, no Matador could get a big hit — or a hit of any kind after the third inning — in a 3-0 loss in seven to the Roughriders after winning the first game 2-1 on Sanchez's walkoff hit in extra innings.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the eighth inning of the first game, Xavier Palmer led off with a single then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs and Palmer on third, Sanchez — who had a single in a failed rally in the seventh inning — ripped the pitch from reliever Brandon Matthews down the line in left to the wall, scoring Palmer.
“I was trying to clear my mind, have a quality at-bat and get a good pitch to hit,” said Sanchez, who was the only Matador with a multihit effort in Game 1, getting two of AWC's seven hits. “I got it.”
Arizona Western coach Drew Keehn said his freshman second baseman from Kofa did a good job of hitting his pitch.
“He got a pitch he was a little out in front on and he stayed through it. He didn't cut off his swing and was able to hit the ball down the line. He was able to put the barrel on the baseball, and that's all you can do hitting — put the barrel on it and see what happens.”
The Matadors (15-10 overall, 7-5 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) had a chance to win the game in the seventh when Sanchez led off with a single, Hector Valenzuela was hit by a pitch and Hayden Calvert reached on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. But cleanup hitter Dallas Hessler hit a dribbler to first and Sanchez was thrown out at the plate, Casey Scott struck out looking and Matt Herring struck out swinging.
Keehn said he didn't really say much to his team after the rally sizzled.
“They're going to have to, without me grinding on them, figure out how to get it done. I think they did. I think they felt like once we didn't score, (Yavapai) had a little momentum. Then we come out and Brandon pitched unbelievably, and then we get ‘X' on second, you could kind of feel like it was coming.”
Brandon Anderson (4-0) logged his third strong performance in a row, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out three. The Roughriders (15-5, 7-5) got two of those hits in the third to tie the game at 1-1 after Ryan Escobar drove home Scott in the first.
“He's given up two runs in the last 22 innings — that's pretty good,” Keehn said. “And it's deserved. The guy works his butt off in practice and prepares the right way and he reaps the rewards of that. He trusts his stuff and does all things you want to see a pitcher do.”
In Game 2, the Matadors loaded the bases with one out in the second inning and had two on with one out in the third and failed to score both times. Yavapai took advantage with two in the top of the fourth and chased starter Richard Dutton (2-2), then added another in the fifth off reliever Omar Celaya.
Former Cibola standout Krysthian Leal had a single and scored a run in the fourth and added a single in the fifth for Yavapai.
Celaya allowed four hits in three innings and one run after Dutton allowed two runs and three hits in 3-1/3 innings.
“He pitched well, but I felt the situation dictated a guy who could come in and pick us up in that situation,” Keehn said. “Omar was that guy. I thought Dutton gave us enough. I would have liked a couple more, but we got in a situation where I felt I wanted to go with Omar.”
After that attempted rally in the third, the Matadors didn't get another hit, making a winner of Matt Southard (2-1). Kamalu Kamoku picked up Yavapai's first save of the year with a perfect seventh as AWC finished with four hits.
“It wasn't their guy; I just thought he was OK,” Keehn said. “We trying to build some confidence in what we're doing at the plate and that comes through preparation and trust in your swing and trust in the work you put in is going to pay off. I think we just need to do that a little bit more.”
Sanchez said he's convinced the Matadors — who entered the game hitting .251 and will likely see that drop — can right the ship offensively
“Our pitchers did really well,” Sanchez said. “Offensively we did all right, but we need to work a little more.
“The thing with us is we're being to passive,” he said. “We have to be a little more aggressive and keep working at it. We'll be all right.”