Mavs earn No. 3 seed for regional
It wasn’t what Colorado Mesa baseball coach Chris Hanks hoped for initially, but he’s not complaining.
The Mavericks had hopes of hosting their third NCAA Regional tournament in the past eight years, but after losing four of their past five games Hanks is happy to be in the Central Regional tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
“We’re pleased to be in,” Hanks told the Daily Sentinel on Sunday night after the field was announced. “Our goal was to be in position to play for a national championship and you have to go through regionals to do that.
“We have an opportunity. What we do with it is in our hands.”
The Mavericks (39-14) are the No. 3 seed and play RMAC rival and No. 4 seed New Mexico Highlands (39-14) in the first round at 11 a.m. Thursday in Mankato, Minn., according to the host school website. Highlands eliminated Mesa in the RMAC tournament on Friday.
“I don’t care who we play first or second,” Hanks said. “We have to beat more than one club. Our seed doesn’t mean much. Now, it’s about executing the game better.”
Mesa has struggled pitching and playing defense lately, giving up 23 runs and making four errors in its two RMAC tournament losses.
“This is reminiscent of 2009 when we wrapped up the league title a week early then went two and out in the conference tournament and rebounded to win the regional and go to the World Series,” Hanks said. “A coach I know calls it the mountain climber syndrome. He pushes so hard to achieve something, like winning the conference, that when he reaches a peak, he stops and rests. I don’t think it’s a confidence issue.”
It’s not certain yet if pitcher Garrett Carpenter will be available for the Central Regional. The junior strained a muscle in his left forearm in the RMAC tournament last weekend. Hanks told the Daily Sentinel they will take it day by day with hopes of pitching him later in the regional tournament.
“Our success hinges on our pitching,” Hanks said. “If he is in a limited role, it will create an opportunity for someone else.”
Region host and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference champion Minnesota State-Mankato (44-10) is the No. 1 seed. St. Cloud (Minn.) State (45-12) is the No. 2 seed, Winona (Minn.) State (29-20) is the No. 5 seed and RMAC tournament champion Regis (32-21) is the No. 6 seed.
“It’s a good field,” Hanks said. “It’s well-balanced. Regis is a formidable opponent. We swept them here, but there were some good ball games.
“Minnesota State is a club we played the past two years in regionals. We’ve seen St. Cloud in the same regionals but never met. One coach in that conference I talked to said St. Cloud has the most talent, but Mankato is the best team.”