(Tempe, AZ) The Park University Gilbert baseball team continued a solid start to its 2023 campaign with two wins on Saturday afternoon, beating Ottawa University Arizona 7-6 in the opener and Southern California Leadership 8-2 in the night cap. The Bucs move to 3-1 on the season as they avenged the 4-0 loss to OUAZ last night and beat SCLU for the second time in as many days.
In game one, OUAZ jumped on top quickly off of Park Gilbert starter Joseph Chavira, with back-to-back doubles to take a 1-0 lead. The Buccaneers responded in kind in the bottom half of the frame, posting three runs as the first three batters in the order all reached base safely. Leadoff hitter Aaron Stinnett started things with a two-strike single up the middle. Cade Maestas then crushed a triple to left center to score Stinnett. Austin Chouinard kept things going with a double to the right center gap. Diego Bejarano moved him to third with a ground out to the right side before Connor Hommes drove him home with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Bucs would add an unearned run in the fourth, as Joel Adamson would reach on a throwing error by OUAZ starter Evan Massie which would get him to second. Adamson would score on an Alex Elizondo double down the left field line to give the Bucs a three-run lead.
The Spirit would cut the lead to one as they scored two more runs off of Chavira before he was lifted in favor of transfer pitcher Dylan Jaquez. The Saint Katherine transfer would walk the first batter he faced to load the bases, but knuckled down to strike out the next two batters.
The inning would end in an unusual way. Elizondo, the Bucs catcher, attempted to back pick Spirit runner Sergio Alfaro at third after a Jaquez pitch. His throw would hit Alfaro in the helmet and the ricochet would take the ball into left field. Alfaro, who was diving back to the bag did not attempt to advance initially. Bradley Wilkison, the runner at second took off for third and was 60 percent of the way to the bag before he realized Alfaro was still there. He attempted to sprint back to second, but Bejarano’s throw beat him to the bag. Wilkison then tried to start a rundown as Alfaro now took off for home plate, but Adamson tagged him for the third out before Alfaro reached the plate and the inning was over in bizarre fashion.
Jaquez threw a scoreless sixth, then OUAZ tied the game in the seventh off of Bucs reliever Matthew Martinez in the top half of the seventh. Park Gilbert answered right back in the bottom half with two outs. Maestas singled to center, Chouinard followed with a single to right to move Maestas to third. OUAZ would bring in left handed pitcher Brandon Smith to face the left handed hitting Bejarano. Bejarano produced a clutch single up the middle to score Maestas and retake the lead.
The Bucs would tack on two insurance runs in the bottom half of the eighth on a Dawson Wedeking single and a Maestas sacrifice fly.
Those two runs would become the definition of insurance in the top half of the ninth. Bucs closer Diego Bustillos, who has never blown a save in his career, came on in the ninth. Bustillos walked the first batter. The next batter reached on a fielder choice as the Bucs were unable to get the runner at second or at first on a ground ball to Maestas at short. Wilkison advanced to third on a throwing error by Adamson on the play. Bustillos would then get a strike out. A Maestas error allowed another runner to reach base as Wilkison scored the first run of the inning. After a wild pitch but the tying run at second, Bustillos walked the bases loaded. A sacrifice fly would cut the lead to one. With the Spirit dugout electric with excitement and the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position, Bustillos was able to induce pinch hitter Deon Reese to roll over a ground ball to first base to end the game.
Martinez would pick up the win in relief and Bustillos earned a hard fought save. Maestas went 3-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Chouinard had a three hit game with a RBI.
Pitching would be the name of the game in the second contest against Southern California Leadership. Zachary Swanson would make his first career start after battling an arm injury which kept him out of all of the 2022 season. He showed the pitching prowess which made him one of the top choices for the Bucs out of the pen in the 2021 season. He threw four scoreless innings allowing only two hits and a walk, throwing 36 pitches in an efficient outing.
The Bucs bats were stymied early by the Rhinos starter, but they finally were able to put a run on the board in the third, as a Connor Hommes single scored Chris Amador.
The Bucs broke things open in the fifth with a four spot off of the Rhinos first relief pitcher. Amador scored on a wild pitch, Travis Moore scored on a passed ball and both Adamson and catcher Cole Sneed singled to drive in runs.
That would be all the Bucs would need as reliver DJ Martin would throw the last five innings for the Bucs to pick up the win. He would allowed two runs in the seventh, but otherwise kept the Rhino bats in check to pick up his first career win as a Buc. He only allowed two hits and struck out four.
Both Adamson and Chouinard had multi-hit games and Adamson had two RBI.
The Bucs close out the weekend with a contest against Kansas Wesleyan tomorrow starting at 11 a.m. lefty Paxton Prentice is the probable starter for the Bucs in the contest.
Press Release courtesy of Park University Athletics – Preston English
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