Mesa, AZ—After winning four of their last six contests, the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds baseball team (30-12, 16-11 ACCAC) split an Arizona Community College Athletic Conference double header with the Yavapai College Roughriders (30-13, 17-6 ACCAC) on Saturday afternoon, losing the first game 6-5 and winning the second game 7-1.
Despite ballooning for seven runs on seven hits and multi-hit games from sophomores Hunter Bross and Mitchell Morimoto in the second game of the double header, the Thunderbirds walked a total of 16 Yavapai batters in game one, including walking in Yavapai's sophomore Nate Easley for the game-winning run in the top of the ninth.
The bottom of the first inning started off hot for the Thunderbirds as back-to-back singles from freshman Esteban Martinez and sophomore Mike Roberson drove in both Morimoto and sophomore Jacob Boston to give Mesa the early lead, 2-0.
The Roughriders started their scoring in the third inning when Mesa's sophomore Matt Mosca walked four of five Yavapai batters, including scoring Easley for the first time on a walk, and cut their deficit to one, 2-1. Easley then gave the Roughriders the lead in the fourth on a three-run homerun that overtook the Thunderbirds, 4-2.
With the Roughriders carrying a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh, the Thunderbirds forced extra innings after a double from Bross scored freshman Jarred Crockett from first base and tied the game up at 5-5 after seven innings.
Both teams went scoreless in the eighth, but the ninth looked all too familiar as four of five Yavapai batters were walked with one out and Easley scored the eventual game-winning run to leave Mesa just short after nine innings, 6-5.
After a close victory in the first game, the Roughriders scored the first run of game two when sophomore Brock Ephan scored Easley from second base on an RBI single to give Yavapai the early lead, 1-0.
The Thunderbirds tied things up at 1-1 in the bottom half of the first when a one-out single and steal of second base by Bross allowed Morimoto to score him on an RBI base hit.
Mesa took the lead in the third inning when Bross scored from third base on a wild pitch, and from that point on, the Thunderbirds never looked back. Four straight singles from Crockett, Bross, Morimoto and Boston accounted for four of the five runs scored by Mesa in the bottom of the fifth inning, extending their lead to 7-1.
It may have been the Mesa bats that took the lead, but it was the impressive pitching performance from sophomore Kent Hasler that kept it. Over seven innings of work, Hasler only allowed one run on four hits, two walks, struck out nine Roughriders and recorded his first complete game of the season.
Now with a record of 5-1 on the season, Hasler has now struck out 62 total batters over a span of 55 innings pitched.
The Thunderbirds will next be in action this coming Tuesday afternoon when they head to Phoenix to take on the South Mountain Community College Cougars in an ACCAC match-up scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. MST first pitch.