Mavs have revenge on their minds

Mesa gets rematch with Colo. Mines at RMAC tourney

Colorado Mesa coach Chris Hanks wasn’t pleased with how his team played last Saturday when the Mavericks were swept by Colorado Mines. Mesa will have a chance to rebound from that sweep when it takes on the Orediggers today in the RMAC tournament in Pueblo.

The Colorado Mesa University baseball team got a wake-up call last weekend and a couple of team captains said they have answered.

“It’s motivation,” junior third baseman Colton Little said. “We have something to prove now.

“A whole bunch of teams are thankful we lost. They’re pumped we’re vulnerable. We have something to prove.”

Four days after Colorado School of Mines ended the Mavericks’ 10-game winning streak, No. 22 Mesa (38-12) plays the Orediggers (16-28) again. This time it’s in the first round of the RMAC tournament at 3:30 this afternoon at Rawlings Field in Pueblo. The championship of the double-elimination tournament is at noon Saturday at Rawlings Field.

Mines split the four-game series with Mesa last weekend, sweeping a doubleheader to conclude the series.

“Mines played great,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “They played out of their minds. Sometimes a team plays better than you. They pitched well and played great defense.

“We were flat, uninspired and not excited to play. It was disappointing. We’re doing everything we can to correct that.

“Sometimes things happen. We weren’t sharp. That was the worst we played all year in back-to-back games. It was the worst defense we played all year and the worst we pitched it all year. We were all responsible for it. We were not at peak sharpness.”

Little said the Mavericks took something from the losses and don’t plan on letting it happen again.

“In the end, it was more of a learning experience more than anything,” Little said. “When you get beat like that, you look to see what you did wrong. More than anything it’s mental. I think we fixed that. We’re going to be ready to play.

“Maybe it was winning conference, we played looser. We can’t let that happen. We’ve got to take our wins with a grain of salt.”

Hanks is confident the team will respond today.

“I believe we’ll rebound,” Hanks said. “I’m not worried about that. We still have to play better than the people we play.”

Hanks said Jared Christensen (11-2) will start today. The rest of the rotation will be determined one game at a time.

“He typically hurts himself the least,” Hanks said of Christensen. “Part of our problem at Mines, we allowed them to get going. We helped them. What we don’t want to do is give them help. Not a guarantee, but we don’t want to walk or hit them. We don’t want to give them cracks.”

Christensen is 2-0 against Mines this season. He pitched 4 1/3 innings in a 5-1 victory back in March at Canyon View Park and struck out seven in six innings of an 8-1 victory last weekend.

“I’m excited,” Christensen said. “Mines is a difficult team to get out. The new coaching staff reworked the team. I’m excited for the challenge.

“I’ve had a couple good starts, but you can’t think that way. The law of averages don’t apply to baseball, but knowing I had success lately is a confidence-booster.”

The Mavericks will likely receive an NCAA regional bid this year, but might have to win the RMAC tournament to host the NCAA Central Region tourney next week. Mesa has hosted an NCAA regional twice (2005, 2009) in the past eight years. The Mavs have qualified for the NCAA regional seven of the past eight years and eight of the past 10.

“I think we do probably do,” Hanks said. “That said, St. Cloud and Minnesota State probably do as well. We’re not alone in that boat. I would’ve thought that would’ve been good enough motivation not to be flat (last weekend).

“What’s most important is playing our best baseball. We’ve got to play better than we did last weekend. That can be distracting. I still don’t think this team has peaked. We’ve gotten 90 percent there.”


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