An RBI double by Colton Freeman and a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Lunardelli were the only runs needed by American River College’s baseball team in a 2-1 grind-out win at Modesto Junior College Tuesday, as starting pitcher Matt Gunter (4-1) threw eight shutout innings with three strikeouts and four hits allowed in his best outing of the season.
The win pushed ARC (7-6) back over the .500 mark this season, and was the team’s fifth straight road win.
ARC won despite being outhit by Modesto, accumulating only four in the game while Modesto finished with six.
Modesto starter Eddie Machado pitched 7 ⅓ innings, allowing both ARC runs while also notching 10 strikeouts.
The game was filled with outstanding defensive plays, most notably the game-ender.
Modesto’s lone run came in the ninth inning, as right fielder William Reeder singled in pinch-runner Michael Maddox, who had replaced first baseman Robert Steves after an infield single and reaching second on a groundout by left fielder Spencer Thomas.
Reeder attempted to stretch the hit into a double, and was thrown out at second on the throw by ARC center fielder Brandon Raposa, leading to cheers and jubilant reactions from ARC’s team following the umpires call.
Christian Savage, who had replaced Gunter to start the ninth, notched his second save of the season.
Freeman’s double came after first baseman Kirby Broadbent lead off the third inning with a walk and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Machado.
Freeman shot a line drive into the right field corner, and the ball dropped in for a hit after Reeder got turned around and took an odd route to the ball, allowing Broadbent to easily score without a play at the plate.
ARC loaded the bases in the sixth with nobody out, as Modesto second baseman Josh Miguel allowed shortstop Steven Mercado to reach after a ball went between his legs, one of three errors for Miguel in the game.
ARC only managed Lunardelli’s sacrifice fly, which came on a close play at the plate after Modesto center fielder Matt Clark’s throw appeared to beat a tagging Mercado, but catcher Jacob Cooper couldn’t handle the exchange, allowing Mercado to score for ARC’s second run.
Broadbent, who had been holding a state-best .500 batting average, dropped to sixth in California after going hitless in three at-bats. He holds a .463 batting average, and is also sixth in the state in on base percentage (.569) and ninth in slugging percentage (.707).
Modesto’s offense never got in a flow against Gunter, as ARC’s defense made momentum-killing plays throughout the game.
In the third, after a pop up by Miguel, Gunter dropped the ball in foul territory after calling off his teammates to make the catch.
Miguel eventually hit a sinking line drive down the right field line that was caught in diving fashion by right fielder Alex Gaskin to end the inning.
In the fourth, Reeder smashed a ball that deflected off Gunter’s glove, but was called out after second baseman Cameron Bennett kept pace with the ball and made a diving catch in the infield.
Bennett also single-handedly started an inning-ending double play in the sixth, tagging a leaping Miguel running from first base before throwing out batter Damien Arteago.
ARC returns home today to play Cosumnes River College at 2 p.m.
ARC head coach Doug Jumelet declined to comment on the game and did not make players available for interviews.