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The Prescott Roughriders baseball team hosted the No. 12-ranked Phoenix College Bears on Saturday afternoon at Roughrider Park for its fifth and sixth-consecutive games against ranked competition and left the ballpark with a sweep, winning game one 4-1 and winning game two 9-4.
“Nathan came out and pitched well for us again in game one,” Head Coach Ryan Cougill said. “We played good defense behind him and offensively had a lot of quality at-bats against a proven and experienced pitcher.
“In game two, our staff gave us a good chance to stay in the game along with excellent middle infield play on the defensive side. Offensively, we stayed patient and were eventually able to put some crooked numbers on the board. Those are good team wins against a good opponent with many of our guys doing their jobs.”
With the pair of victories, the Roughriders have won five-of-six against ranked opponents in the last week, have won four straight, own a 14-9-1 overall record and own a conference record of 8-6.
The aforementioned sophomore righty Nate Ward (also the reigning ACCAC Pitcher of the Week after shutting down then-No. 1-ranked Central Arizona College) was dominant again this weekend. Ward went the distance for the win in game one, struck out eight Bears and allowed just five hits and one run.
With Ward locked in, the Roughriders just needed some timely hitting, which they received early and late in the ballgame.
Sophomore infielder Travis Warinner, who has been red-hot at the plate, led the game off with a double to right and scored two batters later on an RBI single to center off the bat of redshirt-sophomore outfielder Sean Rimmer in the bottom of the first for a quick 1-0 YC lead.
In the bottom of the second, the Roughriders went up 2-0 after a couple of walks, a sacrifice and RBI groundout.
Innings three, four and five featured back-and-forth zeros between Yavapai and Phoenix, before the Bears cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth.
After Stevens moved to third on a passed ball and Taylor stole second, sophomore catcher Alton Gyselman stepped up to the plate with two outs and runners on second and third and delivered a clutch opposite-field two-run single that brought both runners home and gave Yavapai a commanding 4-1 lead in the tightly-contested ballgame.
Ward then made quick work of the Bears in the top of the seventh to secure the 4-1 victory and give himself his second-consecutive complete-game victory.
At the plate, Warinner, Rimmer, Stevens, Taylor, Gyselman, and sophomore infielder Kade York all tallied one hit apiece.
Phoenix jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning in game two, however, the Bears’ lead was short-lived as the Roughriders stepped up to the plate in the third inning and wasted no time in putting together a six-run rally.
Freshman catcher Cade Westerlund singled to start the frame and was followed by a walk from York. With the table set, the next four Yavapai hitters tallied RBI hits: Warinner with an RBI double, freshman utility man Ben Zeigler with an RBI single, Rimmer with an RBI double, and redshirt-sophomore outfielder Amari Bartee capped off the no-outs rally with a three-run homer to centerfield.
Now up 6-2, the Roughriders saw the Bears chip away at their lead with single runs in the fourth and seventh innings.
Up 6-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Zeigler provided the insurance plan this time with a solo homer to lead off the inning. Later in the inning, two more Roughriders crossed home plate via some sloppy Phoenix defense to give YC a 9-4 lead, which eventually turned into the final score after the Bears were held off the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings.
On the mound, redshirt-sophomore lefty Cal Lambert got the start and went four innings while only surrendering two earned runs. Sophomore righty Ben Staiger took the ball from Lambert and provided a great bridge to the later innings with three innings of one-run ball.
Offensively, Warinner, Zeigler, Rimmer and Westerlund all had two hits while Bartee and Stevens each had one.
The Roughriders are back on the diamond on Tuesday, March 15, at home where they will face off against the No. 9-ranked Arizona Western College Matadors. First pitch for game one is set for noon.