Pima Community College was defeated by Yavapai College and Arizona Western College in the NJCAA Region I, Division I Tournament on Friday, bringing the season to an end for the Aztecs.
The #2 seed Pima hosted the double-elimination tournament at Aztec Baseball Field at Chapman Sports Complex at the West Campus, and had a bye for the opening round on Thursday in which # 5 seed Yavapai beat #3 seed Arizona Western to advance to play the Aztecs on Friday.
In the top of the first inning, Yavapai’s Damone Hale reached first from an error on a ground ball before Noah Turley hit a two-run home run. In the bottom of the inning, an RBI single from freshman Daniel Durazo (Salpointe Catholic) cut the Roughriders lead to 2-1 over Pima.
Pima took what would be their only lead of the game at 3-2 in the bottom of the third inning when sophomore JJ Rollon singled on a line drive to left field, scoring Durazo.
After being down 10-6, the Aztecs rallied back to tie the game at 10-10 in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring four runs on an RBI single from freshman Alex Kelch (Tucson High), an RBI double from freshman Alec Acevedo (Nogales), an RBI ground out from Durazo, and an RBI double from sophomore Angel Ochoa (Canyon del Oro).
In the top of the ninth inning the Roughriders pulled away from the Aztecs, scoring seven runs to take the lead for good at 17-10.
Rollon finished the game going 3-5 with 3 RBIs while Durazo finished with 2 RBIs and 2 runs. Ochoa finished with 2 RBIs and a run, and Kelch went 2-6 with an RBI.
Freshman Kaden Palmer, who was brought in to pitch for the Aztecs in the ninth inning, gave up seven runs (five earned) on six hits for the loss (3-2).
In the elimination game that followed, Arizona Western took an immediate 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning from a solo lead-off home run from Jarrod Belbin which was followed by a barrage of hits for the Matadors, who closed out the first half of the inning up 4-0 on the Aztecs.
In the second inning, Arizona Western extended their lead to 5-0 on a sacrifice fly RBI from Delano Selassa.
The Aztecs got on the board in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs on RBI doubles from Acevedo, freshman Romeo Ballesteros (Salpointe Catholic), and an RBI single from sophomore Bailey Seeger which trimmed the Matadors lead to 5-3.
Pima found their bats in the fourth inning, scoring six runs to tie the game at 9-9 on a sacrifice fly RBI from Seeger, RBI singles from Rollon, Durazo, Ochoa, and a two RBI single from Acevedo.
In the sixth inning, Arizona Western’s Samuel Fabian hit a solo homerun to put the Matadors up 10-9 on the Aztecs.
Arizona Western added one run in the seventh inning and two runs in the top of the ninth, putting the Matadors up 13-9 going into the bottom half of the inning.
With Pima down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kelch hit a three-run homerun to bring the Aztecs within a run of the Matadors, before Arizona Western made a pitching change and recorded the last out, winning the game 13-12.
Acevedo finished the game going 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs and a run while Ballesteros went 4 for 5 with an RBI and 3 runs. Seeger went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs, Kelch finished 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs, and Rollon went 3 for 6 with an RBI and a run.
Freshman Andrew Dennis, who was brought in to pitch for the Aztecs in the sixth inning, recorded the loss (1-1).
Pima finished the season with an overall record of 36-14.
According to the Pima College media relations, the 14 losses are the least amount of losses in a season for the program since 1987, and Pima’s 27 conference wins are the most for the Aztecs since 1991.
This was the first NJCAA Region I Tournament appearance for Pima since 2014.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.