Mavs rout Metro at Suplizio Field
Mesa baseball team blasts four HRs to cap series sweep
It’s warming up, the ball is carrying — and the Mavericks are back home.
After hitting nine home runs in 16 baseball games this season at Canyon View Park, the Mavericks moved back into Suplizio Field over the weekend and hit five out of the friendly confines.
“You could count on that,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “The ball flies better this time of year; when it warms up, it flies better.”
No. 24 Colorado Mesa University (32-10. 26-6 RMAC) hit four home runs Sunday in a 21-5 rout of Metro State, completing a four-game sweep and strengthening its hold on the RMAC lead.
CSU-Pueblo lost to Colorado Mines and New Mexico Highlands lost to Regis on Sunday to both fall four games behind Mesa with eight games to play.
Not only was the ball flying on the warm day, but Suplizio is built for hitters compared to the expansive outfield at Canyon View.
“This is always a friendly hitters’ ballpark,” said Jeff Popick, who hit his fourth home run and 12th double of the season. “Getting back home, we got all the first-series jitters out and hopefully next week we can do the same thing.”
The Mavericks kept their focus throughout the weekend and throughout their 17-hit attack knowing what’s up next, just what Hanks wanted to see.
Up next? Just a four-game series against rival CSU-Pueblo, Mesa’s Little League Family Night/Record Attendance night at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and another regular-season conference title on the line.
“We’ve been challenging them and they’re doing a good job,” Hanks said. “Today they wanted to dip into that screwing-around mode of having fun and they didn’t. They were close, but we kept pulling them back in. Let’s have fun but be super-focused, and they did.”
The Mavericks hit five doubles and scored in every inning except the second against Metro State (11-27, 8-24), which used five pitchers, including two who were starting infielders.
“Our guys off the bench came in and kept putting runs up,” Popick said. “That’s what we expect. They had the same approach everyone else has and that proved on the scoreboard.”
Garrett Carpenter (5-3), threw six solid innings for the Mavericks, allowing one run on seven hits. He struck out seven as he continues to get stronger after two years off with elbow problems. He had Tommy John surgery two years ago and his elbow flared up at the start of last season, so he sat out his second year to rehab.
“The run support is always nice but I have to go in and pitch a good ballgame and keep the runs down,” he said. “I don’t consider the 18-run cushion. I act like it’s zero-zero and try to keep throwing up zeros.”
Of his six innings, five were zeros — he allowed a fifth-inning home run just over the wall in left.
Popick had his jump timed, but the ball was just out of his reach. He came down shaking his left hand, trying to get the feeling back from banging his forearm on the top of the new wall.
“You know how it feels when somebody hits your funny bone? It’s OK now,” he said of the tingling in his arm for a few moments.
Up 3-0 in the second, Colton Schoelkopf hit a solo home run to left-center, Popick hit a two-run shot into the bleachers in left-center in the fourth and Justin Rosales skied one over the wall in left in the seventh.
Bryce Shemer, pinch-hitting in the eighth, hit a three-run home run to right, the first of his career, in the Mavericks’ eight-run inning.
It was only the fourth at-bat of the season for Shemer, a redshirt freshman who is hitting .500 with four RBI.
In between, Mesa moved runners and played aggressively, even squeezing home a run when Nate Robertson laid down a pretty bunt in the fifth to score Jake Kluge for an 8-1 lead.
“We’re just kind of feeling loose, feeling free,” Popick said. “We’re still executing. Once we get those early leads, we’re executing and that frees us up even more.
“When we’re out here just being loose and free, that’s when we’re really dangerous.”