Pima Community College sports

Pima advances to ACCAC Region I, Division I championship series

No. 3 Pima College’s baseball team is moving on to the ACCAC Region I, Division I championship series against either No. 1 Central Arizona or No. 4 Arizona Western next week after the Aztecs defeated No. 2 South Mountain in the first two games of a best-of-three series.

Pima (43-15) defeated South Mountain 5-4 on Friday afternoon after beating the Cougars (43-15) by the same score on Thursday.

The Aztecs await the winner of Game 3 on Saturday at noon in the other semifinal between Central Arizona and Arizona Western in Casa Grande. The Vaqueros (47-11) defeated the Matadors (33-16) by a score of 2-0 on Friday to even the series at one win apiece.

The region championship best-of-three series will begin Thursday at Central Arizona if the Vaqueros beat Arizona Western. The series will be at Pima if the Matadors pull off the upset.

Pima built a 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning against South Mountain and held on thanks to JT Drake’s shut-down performance in the eighth and ninth innings, allowing one with two strikeouts and no walks.

Leadoff batter Gage Mestes went 3 for 5 with a run and RBI. His single to start the game led to the Aztecs’ first run with Mestes advancing on an error and a walk that loaded the bases. Rocco Gump was hit by a pitch by South Mountain starter Raul Garayzar.

After the Cougars tied the game with a run in the second, Mestes knocked in Braedon Mondeau with a single with two outs in the fourth to give Pima a 2-1 lead. Mondeau, a Cienega grad, started the inning with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a groundout before Mestes’ hit.

Pima’s lead increased to 4-1 in fifth after the Aztecs rallied with two outs.

Following David Shackelford’s walk, Gump — son of former Arizona second baseman Chris Gump — hit a triple to score Shackelford. Mondeau then hit a single to drive in Rocco Gump.

South Mountain rallied for runs in the fifth and sixth to cut the lead to 4-3 before Tucson High grad Benji Cazares ignited a scoring opportunity with a leadoff double in the seventh.

Cazares scored with one out on Gump’s sacrifice fly to right field.

Connor Schneider led off South Mountain’s half of the eighth inning with a home run, which prompted Pima coach Ken Jacome to insert Drake.

Drake retired six of seven batters he faced, including retiring the side in the ninth.

The only hit he allowed was an infield single by former Nogales standout Kenneth Jimenez with two outs in the eighth.

Starting left-hander Anthony Imhoff was the winning pitcher allowing five hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings while striking out eight and walking six.

Former CDO standout Andrew Stucky, the ACCAC Player of the Year, went 2 for 4 with a double for the Aztecs.

Cazares also finished 2 for 4 with a double and a run.

Rocco Gump led the Aztecs with three RBIs and Mondeau was 1 for 3 with a run and RBI.

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