Lopes Re-Crowned Region IX Champions

The Lamar Community College baseball team hosted Otero Junior College in a best two out of three series for the NJCAA Region IX Championships. Otero won game one with a score of 11-7, and LCC won games two and three, 8-2 and 3-2.

On Friday, the Lopes sent sophomore ace Arturo Maltos-Garica (11-1) to the mound. He lasted two and two thirds innings in a disappointing outing. Arturo gave up six runs on five walks and one hit batter in the third inning to give the Rattlers a 7-1 lead. Freshman Dillon Moritz came in to pitch six and one third innings in relief, striking out five and allowing four more earned runs. The Lopes pounded out fourteen hits and made several attempts at a comeback but came up short. Tim Zufall was 2 for 5 with two home runs and four RBIs, Bobby Lewis was 3 for 4, and Ben Lahn 2 for 5 with a home run.

Game two was played under the Merchants’ Park lights with Tim Zufall (11-1) pitching a complete game with seven strikeouts, giving up one earned run. The Lopes pounded out eleven hits. Jackson Gooch was 2 for 3 with four RBIs and a three run home run in the fourth. Ben Lahn was 3 for 5, and Tim Zufall was 2 for 5.

With the series tied 1 to 1, Sunday’s game was sending one team home. Game three turned out to be a great baseball game with all the excitement of the regular season series match-ups between LCC and OJC. LCC won in the bottom of the 10th inning with a walk-off single by Bobby Lewis with the bases loaded and one out. The dugout erupted onto the field for a dog pile on Lewis. Justin Angel started the game on the mound and pitched well in a no-decision, lasting six innings – striking out eight and allowing two earned runs. Dillon Moritz came in for one third of an inning, but when the Rattlers positioned themselves at first and third with one out the always reliable Brandon Ward-Hersee (8-1) came in to pick up the win in three and two thirds innings, striking out four and allowing no runs. Brandon has not allowed a run in Empire conference play all year. The Lopes pounded out eight hits, and the big hit came in the 10th from Bobby Lewis to clinch back to back Region IX Championships.

The 21st ranked Lopes are currently 46-15 and headed to Western Districts on May 19-21 hosted by NJCAA # 1 ranked Central Arizona Community College. Central Arizona plays Salt Lake Community College on Thursday May 19th at 12:00 p.m. and Lamar Community College will take on Yavapai Junior College at 3:00 p.m.

From Scott Crampton

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