By JOSE SANTIAGO III
The Pima Community College baseball team split its double header against Central Arizona College on April 8.
The split brought the Aztecs’ overall record to 27-18 and their conference record to 16-11, good for fifth in the ACCAC.
In the first game, Pima lost 12-1 as the offense managed just three hits. Freshman Ruben Bracamontes scored Pima’s only run on a wild pitch in the sixth inning.
Pima won the second game 2-1. Freshman Marcel Renteria pitched seven and one-third innings, racking up seven strikeouts while giving up one run.
On April 5, the Aztecs split a doubleheader against Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
Pima won the first game 2-1. Freshman Trey Stine hit a solo homerun to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh.
Sophomore Kellen Marruffo hit the game-winning RBI in the ninth, scoring sophomore James Lynch.
The Aztecs dropped the second game 2-1.
The game was tied 1-1 in the third after Lynch scored on a throwing error. However, Pima couldn’t come back after Chandler-Gilbert scored an RBI sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Sophomore Ethan Rosebeck threw seven innings and gave up just two runs, but went home with his first loss of the season.
Pima split a doubleheader at Cochise College on April 1.
The Aztecs lost the first game 5-2. They were down 2-0 early but an RBI single from Lynch and a sacrifice fly by sophomore Juan Gamez tied the game in the third inning.
However, Pima didn’t score for the rest of the game.
Freshman pitcher Chris Kucko was tagged with the loss. He pitched five innings and gave up five runs.
In the second game, Pima erased a 6-0 deficit and came back in the last four innings to win 11-6.
Sophomore Devon Carrillo hit the game-tying RBI in the top of the seventh, scoring Stine. Gamez went 4 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored
Pima swept its doubleheader over Scottsdale Community College on March 29.
In the first game, sophomore Cole Plouck threw a complete-game shutout for a 1-0 victory. He went seven innings and had five strikeouts.
Pima’s score came in the third inning off a sacrifice fly from Marruffo, scoring Stine.
The second game took 11 innings to finish but the Aztecs managed a 6-5 win.
Pima was trailing 5-2 in the top of the ninth before Gamez hit an RBI single. He scored the game-tying run after sophomore Jorge Maldonado Jr. drew a walk with the bases loaded.
BY ZACH ARMENTA
Pop open a cold beer, grab a box of Cracker Jacks and make some nachos. It’s time for Major League Baseball.
Last year, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and will look to repeat this season.
Let’s look at the biggest stories of the 2014 MLB offseason, starting with the American League.
Derek Jeter, shortstop for the New York Yankees, announced he will retire after this season. One of the greatest baseball players ever, and a class act, will bid farewell.
Robinson Cano chased money to the Pacific Northwest and signed with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have Kyle Seager at third base and Nick Franklin and Brad Miller fighting for the shortstop spot, but will have an issue at first base.
The last big story in the AL is the Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder trade. Kinsler went from the Texas Rangers to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Fielder. This was a move even I didn’t see coming.
It was a great move by both teams, but the Rangers should have tried to get a pitcher. Their starting rotation is weak and needs help.
In the National League, there was little movement but still some big news.
Let’s start with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Patrick Corbin is out for the year after having Tommy John surgery. This season went from bad to disgusting.
The Diamondbacks have no hope without Corbin. Paul Goldschmidt can’t do it all.
In the nation’s capital, the Washington Nationals are the team to watch. The Nationals traded three players to the Tigers for starting pitcher Doug Fister. That makes the National’s pitching rotation scary.
With Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister and Ross Detwiler, the Nationals are a team that can go all the way.
The biggest news is Ryan Braun’s return to the Milwaukee Brewers. After fighting but failing to save his 2011 league MVP award, he was suspended without pay for 65 games including playoffs. He returns this year and hopes to make an impact.
The Brewers have little talent, but maybe Braun can help them get to .500 or a little over. The only players the Brewers have besides Braun is Rickie Weeks, and maybe Mark Reynolds, Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura and Matt Garza.
All in all, this 2014 MLB season will be good and I’m super jacked for its start.
Find that perfect spot on the couch and enjoy the games.
By JOSE SANTIAGO III
Sophomore Cole Plouck has big baseball and music dreams.
The lefty, a Tucson native who graduated from Empire High School in Vail, made it onto the Pima Community College baseball roster as a freshman walk on. He is now a premier pitcher in the rotation.
Baseball has been a part of Plouck’s life since he was a kid.
“Sports have always been really big in my family,” he said. “At a young age, I just started playing baseball in the street. You know, just messing around.”
The Aztecs are 22-15 so far this season, and Plouck is pleased with the way he and the team have played.
“I think we have a solid team all-around and we can go really far this year,” he said.
Plouck has started the season 2-2, and looks to improve his record every time he steps on the mound.
In his March 15 outing, Plouck threw six innings of a no-hitter and had seven strikeouts. The no-hitter was completed by freshman teammate Ben Skuro.
For the week of Feb. 17-23, Plouck received Pitcher of the Week honors in ACCAC Division I. He pitched nine innings over two games and had 11 strikeouts without giving up an earned run.
Winning the honor felt great, Plouck said.
“It’s good to see progress after putting in the time,” he said. “Two years ago, that’s not something I would have thought I could have done.”
Plouck’s teammates are some of his biggest supporters. Freshman Kelton Vieux said Plouck has been huge for the team.
“He helps us win games with his pitching and he always gives it his all,” Vieux said.
“He is really cool and laid back, and he is always willing to help others get better.”
When Plouck isn’t dominating on the mound, he focuses on making music. He goes by the name “ColePrit” to create rap and hip-hop tracks.
Plouck works with artists who are signed to labels, and hopes to someday be signed to a label himself.
He showcases his songs on his website, coleprit.com.
Growing up, Plouck considered his parents to be his major role models, and said they contributed to his success in baseball.
“They were always realistic and I feel like that’s important,” he said. “When I had a bad game, I knew it. They wouldn’t say ‘Oh, that’s OK’ and I appreciated that.”
Plouck has committed to play at Florida International University in Miami next year and is excited about the opportunity.
He is still undecided about his major, but will continue to focus on music and baseball.
His music dream is making it big. His baseball dream is to be drafted into the MLB and pitch like big-league lefty Clayton Kershaw.
“I’d like to get drafted, but at the same time I just want to keep getting better,” he said. “I feel like I’m not close to where I should be yet, and I can get a lot better.”
By JOSE SANTIAGO III
With Major League Baseball’s opening day right around the corner, now is the time when all the cold-weather teams head down to Arizona and Florida for spring training.
When I was a kid, I always looked forward to watching the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Rockies play during spring training in Tucson.
It was only a short drive to what was formerly known as Tucson Electric Park. Admission was super cheap and there was always a good chance of seeing one of my favorite players in action.
Professional baseball, however, is now a thing of the past. All the teams that once called Tucson home for spring training have left. We don’t even have a minor league team anymore.
The saddest part is that I won’t be able to share with my kids the experiences I had at these spring training games.
I remember the anticipation of the ride to the ballpark with my glove on my hand, hoping and praying that a foul ball would come my way.
I remember getting all the players to sign something for me, even if I didn’t really know who they were. It was still awesome, just because they were on the team.
I remember lying on a blanket on the grass sitting area of TEP. I only sat up to eat a hotdog while watching the game.
These are things that I loved as a kid and I feel bad for all the Tucson kids who won’t be able to experience that now.
They’ve tried to replace the lost spring training games with a semi-pro soccer team, FC Tucson, and a new soccer stadium but I’m not convinced that can fill the void.
Soccer is OK and I can always get into it when the World Cup comes around. But baseball is America’s pastime, the greatest sport in world. Trading it for soccer is a terrible choice in my book.
This is the first year in a very long time that professional spring baseball won’t be played in Tucson. I will be mourning the loss until it decides to come back.
By JOSE SANTIAGO III
The Pima Community College baseball team defeated Chandler-Gilbert Community College March 11, improving its record to 16-10.
Sophomore Kellen Marruffo went 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs and two walks.
Sophomores A.J. Acosta and Juan Gamez and freshmen Travis Chavez contributed RBIs and at least two hits each.
On March 8, The Aztecs split their doubleheader against Yavapai College. The two games of the series were night and day opposites in how the Aztecs played.
The Aztecs lost the first game 2-0 despite a strong pitching effort from sophomore pitcher Cole Plouck. He pitched seven innings, giving up one earned run in the losing effort.
In the second game, Pima’s bats finally came alive. The Aztecs exploded for five runs in the seventh inning, which secured a 9-0 victory.
Sophomore Ethan Rosebeck pitched seven innings of shutout ball to go with four strikeouts. On the offensive side, Pima had five players cross home plate.
On March 4, the Aztec swept a doubleheader against Central Arizona College.
Freshman pitcher Chris Kucko earned a 5-4 win in the first game with help from freshman Ben Skuro, who picked up the save. Marruffo had two RBIs.
Pima won the second game 5-3. Marruffo hit a solo home run and had three RBIs. Freshman Marcel Renteria earned the win, pitching four and one-third innings of relief.
On March 1, the Aztecs lost the first game of a doubleheader against Eastern Arizona College. The second game was suspended after four scoreless innings due to rain, and has yet to be rescheduled.
Plouck, pitching his first game since winning ACCAC Division 1 pitcher of the week honors, went home with his first loss of the season. He gave up three runs in five innings of work.
Sophomores Dan Kennon and Devon Carrillo both had RBIs in a fifth-inning rally, scoring sophomores Jorge Maldonado Jr. and Cooper Smith.
March 14: Miles CC, West Campus, 10 a.m.
March 15: Douglas College, West Campus, 2 p.m.
March 18: Gateway CC, West Campus, noon
March 22: @ Paradise Valley CC, Phoenix, noon
March 25: @ Glendale CC, noon
By JOSE SANTIAGO III
Pima Community College swept the University of Arizona club baseball team on Feb. 11 in a double header.
Pima would take the first game by a score of 8-0 and freshman Chris Kucko finally got his first win of the season after pitching five innings of the shutout and only giving up four hits.
Sophomores Kellen Marruffo, Devon Carrillo and A.J. Acosta each had two RBIs in the game.
In the second game of the double header Pima won 10-0.
The win was the Aztecs fifth in a row.
Freshman Francisco Rodriguez went 3 for 4 and racked up 3 RBIs in the game.
Freshman Ruben Bracamontes matched Rodriguez’s production, also going 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs.
The Aztecs look to take this hot streak into ACCAC Conference play starting Feb. 15. They play Western Arizona College in Yuma and look to get their record to above .500 for the first time this season.
Pima won three straight versus Hermosillo College on Feb. 7-9.
In the first game Aztecs won 9-4.
All nine runs came from a huge rally in the sixth inning.
Sophomores James Lynch, Steven Still, Jaquese Moore and freshmen Rodriguez and Brandon Burke each had an RBI in the game.
Sophomore Cole Plouck pitched another great game but couldn’t secure the win. He pitched 5 and two-third innings, giving up only one unearned run.
The second game of the double header had even more offense, winning the game 15-2.
Lynch was the offensive star of the game. He went 3 for 4 from the plate with 4 RBIs, two runs and one home run.
The bats would be alive and well for the third game of the series against Hermosillo, as they would win 8-2.
Freshman Kyle Petty pitched seven innings in the game and only gave up one run on four hits giving him his first win of the season.
Lynch had another great game, including a two-RBI single in the second inning.
Pima dropped two straight versus Western Nevada on Feb. 4-5.
In the second game of the series Kucko pitched six innings and had four strikeouts, but also gave up four runs and seven hits, resulting in his second loss of the season.
The offense struggled in this game as well. Lynch, Bracamontes and sophomore Juan Gamez each had one hit in the effort. Final score 5-0.
The struggles continued for the Aztecs in their game against the Sonora College All-Stars on Feb. 7.
This game went into extra innings with the score tied at one apiece, but due to a passed ball late in the game they would end up losing 3-2.
Sophomore Scotty Watson pitched a great game. He threw 112 pitches in seven and one-third innings, with seven strikeouts and giving up only one unearned run.
Sophomore Dan Kennon would score both runs for the Aztecs in the game on a 1-5 performance from the plate.
The Aztecs dropped both games of a doubleheader on Jan. 31, losing to Paradise Valley Community College.
Kucko was called upon to start the first game of the season for the Aztecs. He struggled early, giving up two runs in the first inning of play.
Kucko would settle down though, only giving up one more run for the rest of the five and two-thirds innings. He left the game with the Aztecs in a two run deficit, down 3-1.
Gamez would score the only run for the Aztecs, going 2 for 4 from the plate.
Watson was strong, starting the second game of the doubleheader. He pitched four and two-thirds innings, only giving up two hits and one unearned run to go along with four strikeouts.
Despite Watson’s strong performance, the Aztecs still found themselves down 1-0.
The Aztec bats showed some signs of life later in the game, scoring four runs in the seventh inning and taking a three-run lead heading in to the bottom of the frame.
The lead was short lived for the Aztecs, as they gave up four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to find themselves down 5-4 going into the eighth inning.
The Aztecs lost the game 6-4, starting the season 0-2.
The second day of the season was slightly better for Pima, as they took one game of two against Paradise Valley at home.
The first game of the doubleheader was a thriller. Through the first 5 and two-third innings Pima pitchers were working on a no-hitter.
Plouck pitched the first four and two-third innings of no-hit ball in a strong starting effort before being pulled. He also had seven strikeouts to go along with four walks.
Going into the bottom of the seventh inning Pima was down by the score of 1-0. Carrillo would score in the inning on a wild pitch to tie the game.
Still scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly hit by Cooper Smith.
The sacrifice would wind up being the game-winning run and give the Aztecs their first win of the season. Final score 2-1.
In the second game, the Aztecs lost 3-0.
Marruffo went 3 for 4 in the game and Carrillo went 2 for 3 combining for 5 of the Aztecs’ 6 hits in the game.
Freshman Marcel Renteria pitched four and two-third innings of relief, racking up seven strikeouts to only one walk.
He did give up two runs and would ultimately take the loss.
By JOSE G. SANTIAGO III
The smell of fresh cut grass is in the air, the infield dirt has been raked and newly ground chalk has been put on the base paths.
All this can only mean one thing: The new baseball season is almost upon us and Pima Community College head baseball coach Jason Hisey is ready.
Last year, Hisey and his team finished sixth in their conference, something the coach is certainly hoping to improve upon this season.
In Hisey’s fourthyear as head coach, he has some obstacles to overcome.
The loss of numerous pitchers is cause for concern, and the coach mentioned the need to fill the void left by departing pitcher Jake Cole.
Some key players taking the mound for the Aztecs this season will be Marcel Renteria, Cole Plouck, Chris Kucko and Scotty Watson.
Hisey isn’t sure how his team is going to perform, but he is cautiously optimistic about their chances.
“I’m not sure yet, we haven’t played anyone beside ourselves yet,” Hisey said.
“Uncertainty brings a sense of excitement to any season, so I guess we will just have to wait and see how this one plays out,” he said.
Pima baseball starts its season on Jan. 31 in Phoenix against Paradise Valley. First pitch starts at noon.
By ROSE VALENZUELA
The Pima Community College baseball team (22-24-1, 12-18 ACCAC) earned a split at Eastern Arizona College on April 16.
The Aztecs dropped game one in Thatcher by a 1-0 score before taking the second contest 6-3.
In the first game, sophomore pitcher Keith Zuniga (5-4) threw six strong innings, but the offense was unable to pick him up. PCC managed just three hits in the contest.
Pima scored two runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to pull away in the second game.
Freshman Luis Robles went 2 for 4 and freshman hurler Hyrum Formo (4-3) got the win after going seven innings.
PCC had a tough day on April 13, traveling to Yavapai Community College for a double-dip. The Aztecs dropped both games to the Roughriders.
The Aztecs lost the first game 12-5, as sophomore pitcher Jake Cole took the loss to drop his record to 3-5 on the season.
Yavapai’s tough defense didn’t allow the Aztecs to get much going. Freshmen Carlo Tacchia and Devon Carillo contributed with some solid offense, but it wasn’t enough for the Aztecs to get the win.
The Aztecs dropped the second game 12-0 in five innings.
Freshman pitcher Cole Plouck took the loss and fell to 1-2 on the year. Plouck gave up seven runs, five of them earned, with three strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Scotty Watson went in to try to earn the save, but gave up five runs with one strikeout.
Sophomore pitcher Will Holbrook closed the game by pitching one inning with no runs and one strikeout.
Pima traveled to Chandler-Gilbert Community College on April 6, splitting a doubleheader.
In the first game, the Aztecs broke a tie in the fourth inning and won 6-4.
Sophomore Alec Beyersdorf and freshman Sergio Ortiz helped the Aztecs take the lead. Beyersdorf had an RBI double and Ortiz added an RBI single.
Freshman Juan Gamez was stronger than ever at the plate, as he went 2 for 2 with two RBIs and two doubles.
Cole picked up another win. Cole pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits, including seven strikeouts and two walks.
Chandler-Gilbert downed Pima 4-2 in the second contest.
Holbrook took the loss after pitching four innings.
By ROSE VALENZUELA
The Pima Community College baseball team (19-19-1, 9-13 ACCAC) had a tough time getting its offense on track against Cochise College on April 2.
Cochise took both games of a doubleheader at West Campus, winning 5-1 and 4-0.
Sophomore pitcher Keith Zuniga absorbed the loss in game one, as his mark dropped to 5-2 on the year.
Sophomore Bryant Muñoz went 3 for 3 from the dish in the contest.
The Apaches held PCC to five hits in game two, as freshman pitcher Hyrum Formo took the loss.
Pima also lost a home doubleheader against Scottsdale Community College on March 30.
The Aztecs again had trouble producing runs, falling 4-1 and 6-1.
In the first game, sophomore Zach Schira knocked in freshman Alvaro Flores, but Scottsdale put it away with a four-run sixth inning.
Sophomore pitcher Jake Cole was the hard-luck loser, going the distance and giving up only three earned runs. He stands at 2-4 on the year.
In game two, sophomore pitcher Will Holbrook took the loss and is now 2-3 this season.
Schira and freshman Luis Robles each went 2 for 4 in the contest.
Pima swept Glendale Community College at home on March 26. The Aztec bats were alive during the two games, and they took full advantage.
PCC defeated Glendale 5-4 in the first game, as Muñoz came through with a pinch-hit, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth.
With only one out, sophomore Dylan Dyson hit a single and sophomore Andre Porterfield got hit by a pitch. A wild pitch then moved the runners up a base.
After freshman Juan Gamez was walked intentionally, the stage was set for Muñoz’s heroics.
Cole pitched 1 2/3 innings with no runs, no hits, two strikeouts and two walks to get the win for Pima.
The Aztecs won the second game 7-1. Formo gave up one run in seven innings with no walks and seven strikeouts to pick up the win.
The Aztecs were down 1-0 until they scored five runs in the third inning, helped along by sophomore Alec Beyersdorf’s RBI triple.
Freshman Luis Robles had a run-scoring single in the same inning to make the game 5-1. The Aztecs tacked on two more in the sixth.
Pima split a home twinbill with Paradise Valley Community College on March 23.
Cole pitched a gem in game one, as PCC won 3-2. The sophomore went the distance and surrendered no earned runs while striking out 14 and issuing a single walk.
Paradise Valley took game two 14-3.
The Aztecs play Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler on April 6. Game one of the doubleheader is scheduled for noon.
By ROSE VALENZUELA
The Pima Community College baseball team (19-17-1, 9-11 ACCAC) had its offense put in check by Scottsdale Community College in a March 30 home doubleheader. The ’Chokes took the double-dip 4-1 and 6-1.
In game one, sophomore pitcher Jake Cole went the distance, giving up three earned runs on five hits. His record fell to 2-4 on the year.
Sophomore Jesus Arvizu went 2 for 3 at the plate.
Sophomore Zach Schira and freshman Luis Robles went 2 for 4 in the second game, as sophomore hurler Will Holbrook (2-3) took the loss.
PCC used some clutch hitting to sweep Glendale Community College at home on March 26, 5-4 and 7-1.
Sophomore Bryant Munoz came through with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth to provide the winning margin in game one.
Cole picked up the victory for PCC. Fellow sophomore Keith Zuniga started, going 6 1/3 innings, while giving up four earned runs five hits.
In the seccond game, freshman Hyrum Formo gave up one run in seven innings. Formo struck out seven and walked none to move his season mark to 2-2.
Freshman Sergio Ortiz went 2 for 3 with an RBI, and sophomore Alec Beyersdorf had an RBI triple.
PCC split a doubleheader with Paradise Valley Community College at home on March 23, winning 3-2 before falling 14-3.
Cole turned in a gem in the first game, giving up two earned runs on four hits and striking out 14. He gave up a leadoff triple in the top of the seventh inning, but struck out the side to end the threat.
Freshman Alvaro Flores went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
In the second game, freshman Scotty Watson took the loss on the mound. He’s 2-4 on the year.
Flores went 2 for 3, and sophomore Dylan Dyson launched a two-run homer for PCC.
On March 21, Pima took on GW White Rock Titans, a Canadian club team, winning 9-2 at home.
Holbrook picked up the victory to run his record to 2-2. He struck out 12 on 106 pitches.
Dyson finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs, and Munoz was 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
Pima had its six-game winning streak snapped by GateWay Community College on March 19 in Phoenix.
The Geckos took game one 2-1, as Zuniga suffered his first loss of the season. He stands at 5-1 on the year after giving up two runs on five hits in six innings of work.
Zuniga also had his 30-inning scoreless streak halted in the second inning.
Schira had a sacrifice fly and a triple in the game, while freshman Juan Gamez went 2 for 3.
GateWay took the second game 7-3, as Formo took the loss.
PCC went 4-0 at the Jack Howell Classic, which was played at West Campus on March 13-16.
The Aztecs played their final two games of the tourney on March 15, beginning with a 6-2 victory over Miles Community College (Mont.).
Watson gave up two earned runs in a complete-game victory to improve to 2-3 on the campaign.
Beyersdorf went 4 for 4 from the plate, including a solo round-tripper in the third inning.
The Aztecs shredded GateWay 10-3 in their second game of the day.
On March 14, PCC broke open a tie game with a six-run fifth inning to defeat Douglas College (Canada) 10-2.
With the score knotted at two, Robles ripped a two-run RBI single, then fellow freshman Devon Carrillo hit a two-run double to make it 6-2 Pima.
Sophomore pitcher Anthony Badalucco went five innings to notch his first win of the season. He surrendered two earned runs on five hits, striking out one and issuing four walks.
The Aztecs defeated Grays Harbor College (Wash.) 4-1 on March 13.
Holbrook went the distance against the Chokers, giving up an unearned run on five hits. He struck out eight and walked none.
Pima took a pair from Paradise Valley Community College at West Campus on March 12, winning 12-0 and 6-5.
Zuniga gave up six hits and recorded seven strikeouts in the complete-game victory.
Freshman Carlo Tacchia was the hero in the second contest, as he hit a walk-off single to bring in Beyersdorf in the bottom of the ninth.
Formo pitched seven strong innings, giving up two runs on six hits.
Sophomore Santiago Romero finished out the contest to pick up the win for PCC.
Beyersdorf and Zuniga took ACCAC Division I Player of the Week honors for March 11-17.
Beyersdorf finished the week 9 for 19 from the plate, with seven RBIs and eight runs scored, while Zuniga pitched his third straight shutout against Paradise Valley on March 12.
Zuniga has a 1.20 ERA in 45 innings pitched this year.
April 2: Cochise College, West Campus, noon
By ROSE VALENZUELA
Pima Community College sophomore baseball player Bryant Muñoz has reached goals, and is still on the verge of reaching more.
Muñoz was born in Sonora, Mexico, and moved to Tucson when he was about 3 months old.
He has every ballplayer’s dream, to become a Major League Baseball player. Aside from that, he would like to be a baseball agent, so he is concentrating on his studies.
“I’m studying sports management and business administration, because for some of us, reality hits a lot quicker than others,” he said. “It’s the hardest sport to be successful in, but the love I have for it keeps me wanting to be around it for the rest of my life, even if I can’t play it.
“Baseball was my first love. I was 3 when I first began.”
Muñoz, 20, is determined to continue playing for as long as he can.
As a sophomore this year, he has already signed to play next season at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., where he will go from being an Aztec to being a Wildcat.
It has taken him a lot to be able to continue with his dream, and so far he has made it clear that no matter how difficult something is, everything is worth it in the end.
“It feels great going to play at a Division I program,” he said. “I took a lot of criticism over the years. People telling me I was too small, not strong enough, not fast enough, etc.”
“It feels that much better to be able to say I accomplished my dream.”
He is stoked about leaving Arizona and moving to the Sunshine State for two years.
“I definitely can’t wait to live two years in Daytona Beach, Florida,” he said.
He dedicates his life to baseball, but when he is off the field he enjoys doing other stuff in his free time.
“I like to spend my spare time in the gym staying in shape, trying to stay injury-free,” he said. “I also enjoy playing racquetball. It’s been my hobby growing up.”
Muñoz has his sights set all the way across the nation for now. Like countless young men before him, he’s willing to do whatever he needs to in order to stay connected with his true love.
By ROSE VALENZUELA
The Pima Community College baseball team (7-10-1, 4-4 ACCAC) split a double-dip at Phoenix College on Feb. 26. The Aztecs won 5-1 in the first game, before falling 3-2.
Sophomore pitcher Jake Cole went the distance for the win game one, giving up a run on five hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Freshman Sergio Ortiz plated two with a single in the second inning, while sophomore Jesus Arvizu also had two RBIs.
In game two, Phoenix scored three in the bottom of the sixth to claim victory.
Sophomore Dylan Dyson got things started for PCC in the top of the first inning with an RBI single, scoring sophomore Alec Beyersdorf. Beyersdorf notched a pair of doubles in the contest.
Freshman pitcher Scotty Watson took the loss, and now stands at 1-2 on the campaign.
Pima earned its first conference sweep of the season on Feb. 23, taking a pair from Mesa Community College at West Campus.
Sophomore Keith Zuniga went the distance in game one, as PCC shut out Mesa 7-0.
Freshman third baseman Luis Robles had a two-run RBI triple in the third inning to get things started for the home squad. He finished the game 2 for 4.
Pima took the nightcap 5-4, as freshman pitcher Hyrum Formo picked up the win. Sophomore Santiago Romero earned the save.
Sophomore Bryant Munoz had a double and two runs scored in the contest.
A rare Southern Arizona snowstorm caused the team’s doubleheader against Okanagan College (Canada) to be canceled on Feb. 20.
The previous day, the Aztecs (4-9-1, 1-3 ACCAC) were swept at South Mountain Community College.
Pima tied game one in the seventh inning, before falling 3-2 in eight.
Cole went seven innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits. Cole had seven punchouts and walked three.
PCC dropped the second contest 9-6, as South Mountain stormed back late to erase a 5-3 Aztecs lead.
The team responded from a loss in its home doubleheader on Feb. 16, and came back with a decisive victory.
The Aztecs played Arizona Western College, and dropped the first game 6-1.
They left the first game in the past, and came back in the second game to win 7-1. They took the lead early, and had a lot of help from Zuniga.
The sophomore pitched eight innings, and gave up only one earned run on six hits with seven strikeouts.
Romero entered in the ninth inning to close out the game, and had two strikeouts.
“I like the fight we have,” said Zuniga after the win. “I like the fact that we have the ability to put the past behind us and move on to play the next game.”
The offense was outstanding in the win.
Beyersdorf hit an RBI double in the first inning to put the Aztecs on the board. Dyson also had an RBI single.
Sophomores Zach Schira and Munoz and freshman Cooper Smith also contributed RBIs in the contest, along with Ortiz.
On Feb. 8-10, the Aztecs were on the road playing another tournament in Las Vegas.
The Aztecs lost their first two games against Western Nevada College.
Although their first two games weren’t what they hoped for, the Aztecs took charge on the last day in Las Vegas and defeated Western Nevada 7-5.
Pima got on the board with two runs in the second inning. Western Nevada responded with four runs in the seventh.
After the lead went back and forth one more time, the Aztecs scored three runs to win the game in the top of the ninth.
Formo pitched six scoreless innings. He had eight strikeouts and only two walks. Romero pitched a scoreless ninth inning to get the win.
March 2: Eastern Arizona College, West Campus, noon
March 5: @ Central Arizona College, Coolidge, noon
By ROSE VALENZUELA
The Pima Community College baseball team visited Las Vegas for a work trip on Jan. 31-Feb. 1, going 1-3 in the College of Southern Nevada Tournament.
The Aztecs split their two games on the tournament’s second day, pounding the College of Southern Idaho 10-2 and dropping a 3-2 heartbreaker to the College of Southern Nevada.
Sophomore Keith Zuniga had a great game on the mound against Southern Idaho, pitching seven innings and only giving up one run. He had two strikeouts and no walks.
PCC broke out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, then tacked on three more in the third.
Sophomore Jesus Arvizu had an RBI double in the second inning, and went 3 for 4 with four RBIs in the game.
Sophomore Bryant Munoz and freshman Cooper Smith each had RBI singles in the third.
Pima gave up a pair of runs in the bottom half of the ninth inning to fall to Southern Nevada in the second game.
Freshman hurler Hyrum Formo pitched six strong innings, surrendering a single earned run on six hits. He had six strikeouts and gave up a walk.
Freshman pitcher Scotty Watson took the loss for PCC.
Pima had a tough time at the plate on the tournament’s first day, falling to Southern Idaho 9-0 and dropping a 1-0 game to Southern Nevada.
PCC’s three hits in the Southern Idaho contest came courtesy of sophomore Alec Beyersdorf and freshmen Luis Robles and Juan Gamez.
Freshman Cole Plouck was the losing pitcher.
After having their season-opening games rained out on Jan. 27, the Aztecs played their first two games of the year at Paradise Valley Community College on Jan. 29.
Pima won the first game 4-0, as sophomore Santiago Romero pitched four no-hit innings. Watson got the last nine outs for the save.
Sophomore Zach Schira and freshman Carlo Tacchia both contributed enough offense to push across the four runs that were scored in the game.
Schira started things off with a two-run double in the first inning, and Tacchia drove in two more in the third.
The second game ended in a rare 2-2 tie.
Robles got PCC on the board with an RBI single, and the Aztecs pushed across another run in the fifth to tie it up.
Sophomore Will Holbrook, Formo and Zuniga combined to allow the two runs on seven hits.
The Aztecs will return to Las Vegas on Feb. 8-10 to play three straight games at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
They will play Western Nevada Community College in the first game. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Feb. 8: @ Western Nevada CC (at UNLV), Las Vegas, 3 p.m.
Feb. 9: @ Western Nevada CC (at UNLV), Las Vegas, 11 a.m.
Feb. 10: @ Western Nevada CC (at UNLV), Las Vegas, 11 a.m.
Feb. 16: Arizona Western College, West Campus, noon
Feb. 19: @ South Mountain CC, Phoenix, noon
By ROSE VALENZUELA
College baseball season is right around the corner, and the Pima Community College squad is eager for it to begin.
It’s finally time for the players to show off their skills and everything they have worked on the past several months, including during fall ball.
This year’s baseball team is full of talent in all areas.
Although the Aztecs lost key players from last year, they have gained talent back from incoming freshmen.
They think that they have the potential to be the team they are striving to be.
The sophomores on the team are outlining expectations in order for them to have a successful season.
“We expect our freshmen to come ready to play and not complain about anything. Just take care of business,” returning outfielder Bryant Munoz said.
The team has put in a lot of time on the diamond and in the weight room to prepare for the upcoming campaign.
“We practiced six times a week, four hours of practice during the week and eight hours on Saturdays,” Munoz said. “And we had morning workouts four days a week.”
The way the Pima baseball team practices does not change.
According to some returning players, head coach Jason Hisey is strict about what needs to be practiced.
The team opens the season at home on Jan. 26 against Paradise Valley Community College.
That same week they go to Las Vegas for the Community College of Southern Nevada Tournament.
All scheduled dates are doubleheaders.
By STEVE CHOICE
People might suspect that the baseball and softball diamonds at Pima Community College’s West Campus lay dormant during the offseason.
But those suspicions would be off base.
The two squads can be found between the lines this time of year, practicing and playing exhibition games to keep their skills sharp and allow coaches a valuable look at their players.
“These fall practices are a necessity, and absolutely a positive thing,” said head softball coach Armando Quiroz. “We need this because we have to find out the culture of our team, and figure out the strengths and weaknesses we have.
“Playing 19 games like this, we get to experiment and see a lot of things.”
Though they’re not playing for keeps, Quiroz is aware of how much his players want to win the exhibition contests.
“We say to the team, ‘Winning’s not the thing here; we’re trying to build the team,’” he said. “But once the games start, that competitiveness takes over.
“Yeah, we’re trying to build, but we’re also trying to win. That competitiveness never goes away. It’s kind of like spring training, but you still don’t want to lose.”
Luckily for them, losing isn’t something Quiroz’s players have had to deal with yet this fall, going undefeated in six tries.
The PCC baseball team has also been getting in some fall reps, both in practices and exhibition games. Freshman shortstop Devon Carrillo definitely sees the value in it.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Carrillo said. “The sophomores really help us out a lot by showing us how coach (Jason) Hisey wants stuff to be and what’s expected of us.”
Sophomore starting pitcher Keith Zuniga echoed his teammate’s thoughts.
“We’re able to help out the freshmen as far as showing them what coach wants, and just getting them more familiar with the college game.”
Sophomore hurler Yvette Alvarez is another Aztec who appreciates the opportunity to help her coaches mentor new teammates.
“We’ve been providing some good leadership to the freshmen,” she said. “Just kind of showing them what the expectations are at this level and stuff.”
Freshman catcher and infielder Danielle Stensby says the extra time has helped her get accustomed to the added pressures of college ball.
“I was nervous at first,” she said. “It was nice to be able to get the jitters out in an exhibition game.”
The Aztecs will get the opportunity to play a Division I team on Oct. 6-7, as they hit the road for four games against the University of Texas at El Paso.
Fans hoping to catch the team at home can do so on Sept. 29, as PCC takes on the New Mexico All-Stars, a club team.
Pima will also compete in the University of Arizona’s Fall Classic at Hillenbrand Stadium on Oct. 12-14.
The Aztecs are scheduled to play the UA and the University of New Mexico at the tournament, among other teams.
The baseball team will next be at home on Sept. 29 to take on the Albuquerque (N.M.) Baseball Academy squad.
For full schedules and more information on fall baseball and softball, visit www.pima.edu/current-students/athletics.