By: Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
PHOENIX - At 20-18 overall, 9-14 in conference play, Phoenix College sits three games out of playoff contention. With only one month left, the Bears’ players are looking to jumpstart a second-half push for the 2019 ACCAC playoffs.
During the month of March, Phoenix College produced a 10-8 record. All eight of those losses, however, coming at the hands of division foes. The tough month puts PC in a “bottom; looking up” situation, but with only three games separating 7th and 4th-place; the Bears are hopeful play can turn around for them.
Following a split series against Central Arizona on Saturday. The Bears were looking to steal a make-up game on Tuesday against the Vaqueros (Initially scheduled for March 16th). A game they ended up dropping 8-0.
The next day, however, Phoenix College’s bats were hot; as they comfortably handled Gateway Community College 5-2, including a 4-run Fourth inning. The quick turnaround in play has been a story synonymous with their entire season.
A recent lackadaisical effort, in the field (63 errors on the season), has led to much shifting of the line-up over the last few weeks; with players like Mason LaRusso, Jose Olivas and Colton Goldfarb seeing their games increase. Each of the three Freshman are also among the top five batting averages on the team.
At-bats leaders: Gino Caperon (101), Dom Grissom (91) are both batting above .285 with 27 combined-RBIs, and a single home run for Dom Grissom. Third-overall, Nick Alvarez (89) is batting a steady .236 with seven RBIs and three stolen bases.
Of the eight (total) batters hitting over .300, six of the eight have over twenty plate appearances, and four of the six have recorded double-digit hits. All but three (eligible) batters, on the team, are currently over the “Mendoza Line.”
The most surprising statistic of all: Phoenix College is averaging 4.8 runs/Game with only four batters recording 20+ hits. The stat line will show that most of the Bears’ 173 runs are product of the “Four sluggers” in Caperon, Grissom, sophomore Jackob Pigati and Dutch-freshmen Tijmen Takke. Four players also have 7+ RBIs, but the spread is very even among players.
Kimball’s starting rotation has combined for a 12-15 record with 69 earned runs among them. The issue does not seem to be confidence, rather than longevity. Another daunting issue is relief-stability. Counting relievers who have thrown over ten innings, the combined bullpen ERA is 8.38.
On the bright side, Phoenix College has struck-out 297 batters for a 5th-ranked 9.57 K/9 rate in the ACCAC; along with facing the 5th-least amount of batters this season (have played five less games than half of the league).
As the Bears hunt for a Playoff spot, quality performances ad team wins against teams like Central Arizona and Gateway will allow for a talented team in Phoenix College to find themselves back in-contention.
Phoenix College is currently playing at Gateway Community College. They play Arizona Christian University’s JV team, tomorrow at 6pm, before closing out the two-game homestand against Scottsdale Community College on Friday at 3pm. Phoenix College’s campus is located at 1202 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ, 85013.