Pima Community College sports

Pima College win away from NJCAA Division I regional tournament

Former Salpointe standout Luis Garcia of Pima (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

The Pima College baseball team protected its home field in Game One of the NJCAA Division I Region I Championship series on Thursday against Arizona Western College.

The No. 3 seeded Aztecs (44-15) defeated the No. 4 seeded Matadors 9-7 to take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-3 district series.

They will play Game Two on Friday at the West Campus Aztec Field at 2:00 p.m.

The winner of the best-of-three series advances to the NJCAA Division I West Regional tournament at the site of the Region 9 champion beginning Thursday.

Down 6-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth inning, sophomore Luis Garcia (Salpointe Catholic grad) hit a leadoff single. Sophomore Gage Mestas hit a shot to right field to bring him in. The Aztecs loaded the bases after a walk by sophomore Andrew Stucky (Canyon del Oro) and an infield single from sophomore Hunter Faildo.

The Aztecs had back-to-back strikeouts, but sophomore Rocco Gump, son of former Arizona second baseman Chris Gump, kept the rally alive with a walk to score Mestas.

Stucky cut it to 6-4 after a balk brought him in to score. Sophomore Braedon Mondeau (Cienega) tied the game with a two-run RBI triple to right field bringing around Faildo and Gump. Sophomore Joey Adge capped it off with an RBI single to plate Mondeau as Pima took a 7-6 lead.

The Matadors (34-17) tied the game on a wild pitch in the sixth inning.

Garcia reached base in the eighth on a fielder’s choice, and with one out, Mestas hit a single. Garcia raced around second and took advantage of a throwing error that went passed home plate and he scored the eventual go-ahead run. Mestas made it all the way to third base on the same error. He would score on Stucky’s RBI single to add some insurance.

“That (extra run) was huge. One run is not safe in this league,” Garcia said. “We got to stay hungry, stay aggressive on the bases and play good defense.”

Mestas finished the game 3 for 5 with an RBI and three runs. Stucky had an RBI single in the third inning and was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run. Mondeau went 1 for 4 with two RBIs and a run. Garcia finished 2 for 4 with two runs. Faildo closed out the game 3 for 5 with a run and Gump finished 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run.

“It’s huge coming up to bat after Luis gets on base for us so I can hit him around. He executed his job, the least I can do is mine,” Mestas said. “It was a big team win today. We came out kind of slow and we figured out how to put the bats together and everyone did their job really well.”

Freshman J.T. Drake picked up the win (1-0) after he pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, giving up one hit with one strikeout. He got a flyout to end the eight with two Arizona Western runners stranded.

After giving up a leadoff single in the ninth inning, he got a fielder’s choice, strikeout and groundout to end the game.

Sophomore Matt Cornelius started the game, going four innings, and giving up six runs (three earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Sophomore Matt Romero threw two innings, giving up one run (one earned) on three hits with one strikeout and one walk.

Sophomore Dayne Pengelly went 1 2/3 innings, giving up one hit with two strikeouts and one walk.

 “Everyone came in … and did their jobs. We showed no fear on the mound,” Mestas added. “No ‘tails between the legs’ which was awesome. We’re just going to keep it up tomorrow and continue this confidence. We got to stay hungry. We haven’t done anything yet.”

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