Sun Belt College League: Gamblers on roll upsetting Aztecs to face Rebels in championship series

The Vail Rebels’ Angel Ochoa (9) will lead his team against the Speedway Gamblers and Ivan Villa (11) in the best-of-three championship series of the Sun Belt College League starting Monday at the Kino Sports Complex (Field No. 4) (Photos by Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

The following is a report with some of the information provided by Kino Baseball League president Bill Leith, who organizes the Sun Belt College League:

Gamblers from around the world visit Las Vegas to dream about getting on a roll and coming out on top.

This scenario is playing out in the Sun Belt College League with the Speedway Gamblers, who finished sixth in the league but are now on a roll in the postseason.

Erik Sabel’s team won the play-in game on Wednesday by upsetting the third-place Old Tucson Gauchos, then the high roll continued with a sweep of  the second-place Catalina Aztecs out of the playoffs. 

The stakes are higher now challenging the defending champion Vail Rebels, the first-place team this season.

The Rebels swept the Northwest Nighthawks to advance in the best-of-three championship series that will begin Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Kino Sports Complex (Field No. 4). The series was originally slated to start Monday but was pushed back a day because of the “factor of pitcher and player safety,” Leith mentioned.

“The one day push gives team extra day of rest to be ready for what we hope is an outstanding championship series,” Leith added.


As has been the case the past week in the playoffs, the Gamblers’ pitching has been outstanding for Sabel, a former Arizona Diamondbacks and Tucson Padres pitcher who was part of the 2001 World Series title team with the D’backs.

Victor Munoz (Eastern Arizona) pitched solid seven innings striking out seven and allowing four hits. Alex Urias-Calvillo (Walden Grove) had a repeat performance of Game One with two innings of shutout baseball and coming up with the win.

The Gamblers had only two hits and struck out 12 times — a recipe not for a positive outcome.  But right now, the Gamblers are like the player at the blackjack table that is beating the dealer every time regardless of the cards that are being dealt.

Cougar Cooke (Utah Valley) doubled and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning for the Gamblers. Cooke is the son of former Flowing Wells and Arizona basketball player Troy Cooke, who was part of Lute Olson’s first team with the Wildcats in 1983-84.

Ruben Castro (Tucson HS) and Benji Cazares (Tucson HS) drove in the only Aztec runs.


The Rebels for the second straight game took a tightly contested game going into the eighth inning and promptly scored five runs to break a 4-4 tie with the Nighthawks. 

In the game on Friday, the Rebels had a slim 6-4 lead going into the eighth inning and scored six runs.

Jacob Wiltshire (New Mexico State) hit a grand slam and Nick Arias (Tucson HS-Grand Canyon University) had two hits and drove in two runs.

Mario Bejarano pitched seven strong innings and left with the game tied at 4-4. Bejarano struck out seven and allowed four hits.

Angel Ochoa (SE Oklahoma State) pitched the eighth and ninth innings and received credit for the win. He struck out two batters.

Carson Miller (University of Southwest) had three hits for the Nighthawks.

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