By Mike Meraz
By Mike Meraz
What a difference a day makes.
Just one day after narrowly escaping the Central
Arizona College Vaqueros on an unearned run, the Tigers found their bats to win the second game of the series 9-7.
Starting catcher Michael Neff, who had a key two run double in the bottom of the third, admitted that after the first game’s poor performance, the team wanted to score early and often.
“We did try to jump on them early,” Neff said. “The plan was to see the ball middle and away and bang opposite.”
The plan seemed to work to perfection.
The tigers banged their way to 12 total hits throughout the game.
“I didn’t expect the game to be this high scoring at all after yesterday,” Neff said. “We all knew it was going to be a good game though.”
The Tigers jumped on the Vaqueros early and didn’t let up.
After the Vaqueros opened a 2-0 deficit in the first, the Tigers responded with Nick Akins drilling a two run home run that tied the game at 2-2.
It was his team leading third home run of the season.
The Tigers chose to pitch by committee in order to slow the Vaqueros bats as they used six pitchers throughout the entire game.
Pitcher Chris Cassidy entered the game in the crucial seventh inning during a Central Arizona surge.
A costly error and a bock in the inning cost the Tigers their 3 run lead and left the game tied at 7-7.
“It was more our mistakes rather than their offense that allowed them to get back in the game,” Neff said. “Our pitcher’s balls were flat, and they were capitalizing on it.”
Center fielder Bryce Holland quickly responded with a single in the bottom of the seventh.
After being advanced on Heff’s bunt, SS Richie Jimenez drove in the go ahead run with a pop-fly single to right field.
Third baseman Lewis Tovar drove in an RBI single for the insurance run.
Relief pitcher Sean Urena came in the eighth inning to seal the deal for the Tigers and pick up his first save of the season.
With back to back wins over the number four ranked team in the nation, the Tigers improve their record to 8-2 overall in preseason play.
The defending state champions have started strong this year and are on the right track towards a repeat.
“I don’t think there’s any added pressure on us,” Neff said of being state champions. “It just makes us more motivated and aggressive, we just take it pitch by pitch.”
Whether they would like to acknowledge it or not, the hunt for the repeat is on.