SIGNAL PEAK — Mat Olsen was magnificent in his Central Arizona College baseball debut, and Calvin Schapira was no slouch either as the defending national champion Vaqueros opened the season with a 4-0 home victory over Phoenix College on Friday.
Formerly a star at Florence High School, Olsen struck out 10 before departing after four innings. Schapira also went four innings in his CAC debut, allowing just one hit and striking out four. Bradley Collins preserved the nonconference victory by getting a game-ending 5-4-3 double play in the ninth.
“Mat’s come a long way after redshirting for us last season,” CAC assistant coach Joe Perez said. “It shows what can happen when you go about it the right way. He’s been competing like that since the fall, so (his performance) really wasn’t a surprise.”
The right-handed Olsen allowed three hits and one walk and hit a batter. Olsen, who has committed to Arizona, struck out the side in the first and fourth innings and racked up two strikeouts in the second and third.
Sophomore left-hander Schapira, a transfer from USC who has committed to Purdue, retired the Bears in order in the fifth and eighth innings.
“He pounds the zone,” Perez said of Schapira. “It’s easy to play defense behind guys like him (and Olsen) when they’re throwing strike after strike. When the ball’s not put in play, those are pretty easy outs.”
Schapira allowed a two-out single to Tijmen Takke in the sixth and issued a one-out walk in the seventh. Takke, who went 3 for 4, singled in the second and doubled in the fourth off Olsen, who also gave up a third-inning single to Sammy Serrano.
Top-ranked Central opened the scoring with three runs in the sixth and tacked on one in the eighth. Only one of the Vaqueros’ nine hits drove in a run — Matt Aribal’s infield single that capped the sixth-inning rally against Phoenix reliever Jayse Burkett.
Kiko Romero led off the sixth with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Seth Beckstead’s sacrifice fly on a foul popup to the first baseman made it 2-0. Zack Stewart had a sacrifice fly in the eighth off Carlos Bracamontes.
The Vaqueros stranded nine baserunners, seven in scoring position.
“We had some good at-bats,” Perez said. “We just weren’t stringing hits together. But the guys found a way to score when they needed to. I’ve got to believe it’s going to come around if we keep getting them in scoring position.”
Leadoff batter Coby Boulware doubled in his first two at-bats off Phoenix starter Adrian Santa Cruz. Romero and Aribal also had two hits for Central.