Mesa, AZ – In the midst of their pursuit for yet another ACCAC title, the Mesa Community College baseball team (25-8, 13-7 ACCAC) stayed active on offense to take both games of a double header from the Eastern Arizona Gila Monsters (11-21, 1-13 ACCAC) on Tuesday afternoon in Mesa by scores of 7-6 and 12-2.
The start of the opening game was headlined by the stellar work from both starting pitchers. Sophomores Chase Merriman for Mesa and Nick Caudillo for Eastern Arizona combined to allow zero hits and only one run through the first three innings of play.
Then with a 1-1 tie going into the bottom of the fourth and a runner on second, Mesa's sophomore Alfonso Barragan III racked a two-run homerun over the leftfield wall to give the Thunderbirds a 3-1 lead after four innings of play.
The Gila Monsters took the following inning to stage their comeback as RBI doubles from sophomores Nicholas Guillen and Taylor Martin helped fuel a five-run fifth to give Eastern Arizona a 6-3 lead going into the home half of the inning.
While RBI's from sophomores Kody Funderburk and Esteban Martinez helped cut the Thunderbird deficit to only one run after the fifth, some smart base running from sophomore Matt Ayala and freshman Joshua Brown, who stole home to take the lead, in the sixth inning allowed Mesa to retake the lead and capitalize on a 7-6 comeback victory in game one.
As the second game of the double header opened up, the Thunderbirds stormed right out of the gates.
Freshman Kelby Richardson and sophomore Jared Crockett started the game off with back-to- back singles, and freshman Marcus Skundrich drove them both home with a single out to centerfield, giving Mesa the early lead, 2-0.
The long ball continued for the Thunderbirds in game two as sophomore Hunter Bross blasted a two-run dinger over the centerfield wall to start off the second inning, and Funderburk followed with a RBI single later on to extend the Mesa lead, 5-0.
On top of a strong seventh inning from both Funderburk and freshman Ben Lewis to help secure a 12-2 victory in game two, sophomore pitcher Rylie Grivette was just as crucial in locking down the double-header sweep of the Gila Monsters.
In five innings of work, the left-hander allowed only two runs on four hits and struck out
four total batters.
The Thunderbirds have now won seven out of their last eight games and will next be in action this Friday afternoon when they travel to Coolidge to take on the Central Arizona College Vaqueros.
First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. MST.