Post Independent Staff
GRAND JUNCTION ” Dormant for five innings, the Roughriders (57-11) found their collective hitting strokes in the sixth, then proceeded to pound out back-to-back eighth-inning rallies that were capped by Aaron Asher’s game-winning home run in the seventh.
Wallace State (42-18) was eliminated from tournament play with its second loss.
Asher’s homer invoked the 10-run mercy rule that halted the game and advanced Yavapai into the potential championship game tonight against the winner of Thursday night’s game between San Jacinto, Texas, and Walters State, Tenn.
The Roughriders’ hitters pounced on three different Wallace State pitchers for 16 hits.
Down 7-1 at the start of the sixth, Yavapai third baseman Milton Loo sparked the Roughriders comeback with a three-run home run off Wallace State starting pitcher Derrick Holland. A two-run triple by Evan LeBlanc later in the inning gave Yavapai the lead.
Wallace State retaliated the following inning, knotting the game at 8-all when Matt Andrews scored from third on Chris Hoffer’s sacrifice fly after leading off the Lions’ eighth with a base hit.
Sophomore relief pitcher Zane Stone came to the rescue for the Senators (59-7), shutting down an eighth-inning rally from the Lions (42-16), who scored five runs off starter Bobby Thompson to take a 8-7 lead.
Stone (8-2) helped his own cause by forcing a rundown on Wallace State baserunner Jake Elmore between third and home to quash the rally. Walters State used a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt from Jaron Gray and RBI singles by Nick Belher and Stephen Shults to re-take the lead in the bottom of the inning.
The two teams clubbed five home runs between them. Walters State, who faces San Jacinto, Texas, in today’s semifinals, smashed three homers in a row in the fourth. Walters State responded with two home runs in a five-run eighth inning.
Stone closed the game by inducing back-to-back groundouts.
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