Mavericks puzzled by drop in regional baseball rankings
Colorado Mesa’s baseball team stayed put in the national rankings, but dropped one spot in the NCAA regional rankings this week.
The fourth-ranked Mavericks (37-7) are now second in the NCAA South Central Region despite winning three of four games against Regis last weekend.
Texas A&M-Kingsville (35-15), ranked 29th in the nation, overtook Mesa for the top spot in the region poll, which determines NCAA qualifiers. The top-ranked team in the region can host the tournament if it applies with the NCAA to host it and has the facilities to do it. Six teams from the Rocky Mountain Athletic, Heartland and Lone Star conferences qualify for the regional.
CMU coach Chris Hanks didn’t know whether Texas A&M-Kingsville put in an application to host the regional, but Colorado Mesa applied.
“We can’t control that,” Hanks said. “I’ll tell you what, as a coach, it gives me a little attitude. It locks me in. It makes me want to go to work a little harder. We’re going to try to convey that to our players. We have something to prove, but at the end of the day, our goal is to get into the NCAA tournament. Hosting doesn’t guarantee winning it.
“What gives you the best chance to win is the right attitude going into it and then executing the game at a higher level than the teams you play against. If our goal is to host the regional, then that would be the wrong goal. Our goal is to get into the NCAA tournament and win the NCAA regional. If that’s in Grand Junction, it probably will be a little more fun.”
The committee that ranks the region has two representatives from each conference in the region, but an RMAC representative did not participate in this week’s ranking for the South Central Region, according to the NCAA rankings release.
The final regional poll, which determines the six regional tourney qualifiers, will be released May 12.
“I know it’s very close,” Hanks said. “We got word from the committee chair (Wednesday) morning that it was a virtual dead heat.”
The Javelinas took second place in the Lone Star Conference and play in the conference tournament beginning Friday in Canyon, Texas.
Justin Rosales found his way back into the Mavericks’ baseball lineup thanks to a position change.
“I asked him, ‘Can you play third?’ ” Hanks said. ” ‘Why don’t you take some ground balls.’ We thought, ‘What the hell?’ Right away the ball finds him. He makes the slow roller, diving play to his left.”
Rosales took some ground balls at third base and showed Hanks enough to give it a shot. He moved to third base three weeks ago at Metro State in Denver.
The senior said he played two or three games at third base in junior college. He played second base and shortstop through high school and college.
“Anything to get in the lineup and help the team, that’s what it’s about,” Rosales said. “If I can get in the lineup and help the team, then we’re pretty good.”
He has played nine games at third base and hit .429 with two doubles, nine RBI and two errors in those games.
“We’re just looking for combinations, and that’s it,” Hanks said. “Now Rosy can play second or third. (Braden) Box can play second, third or short. We’ll probably leave (Nate) Robertson at short. (Colton) Little has played all three in his career. We’re trying to make sure we know what our best defense is in conjunction with our best offense. It gives us the ability to play the hot guy.”
Cleared to play
Garrett Carpenter, in the midst of a 21-game hit streak but sidelined with injury to his right hand, was cleared to hit this week. The junior outfielder/pitcher took batting practice Tuesday for the first time in two weeks.
Carpenter did, however, make two relief appearances on the mound last weekend against Regis.
First baseman Kennedy Kinkade has been resting a foot injury and could play this weekend, Hanks said.
Colorado Mesa hosts Colorado School of Mines (21-21, 16-16 RMAC) in a four-game series this weekend at Suplizio Field.
The teams play a doubleheader beginning at 3:30 p.m. Friday and another at 1 p.m. Saturday, so they can take Sunday off before the RMAC tournament, which begins Wednesday at Suplizio Field.
The Mavericks already have clinched the regular season title and No. 1 seed for the RMAC tournament. Mines also qualified for the RMAC tournament.