No relief for Mavs
Williams' solid start goes for naught as relievers struggle with control in home opener
Matt Williams had all of the inspiration he needed. The Colorado Mesa University senior was pitching a no-hitter through five innings with a heavy heart in the Mavericks’ home opener, but it wasn’t enough.
His relief gave up two bases-loaded walks, and the Mavericks’ offense failed to produce a timely hit in a 5-2 loss to Montana State-Billings on a sunny Friday afternoon at Suplizio Field.
“I had a lot of motivation this week because it was the home opener and my uncle recently passed,” Williams said. “I had a lot of motivation to keep me focused.”
He limited the Yellowjackets (2-4-1) to two walks through five innings before giving up a solo home run to Drew Fosnes to lead off the sixth inning. That tied the score 1-1.
“One pitch can easily break it up quick,” Williams said. “I found a rhythm and stayed in it. The sixth inning, I lost a tiny bit of focus and it cost me a run.”
Williams, who played in the 2010 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series for Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, allowed the one run on three hits and struck out eight in seven innings.
“He did everything he needed to do to give us a chance to win,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “Billings is a solid club. We have respect for them. They earned it.”
Mesa relief pitcher Tamatoa Demello gave up a hit to lead off the eighth, then followed it up with a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. The lead runner scored for a 2-1 lead.
Demello gave up a bunt single before the Mavericks got an out on a fielder’s choice. He was pulled after a walk.
Dustin Robirtis replaced him on the mound but didn’t have his control Friday. With the bases loaded, the junior hit the first batter he faced to bring in the Yellowjackets’ third run. He walked the next two batters and was pulled.
“We didn’t make good enough pitches in the eighth. That’s the bottom line,” Hanks said. “It’s one thing if it turns into a 2-1 or 3-1 game, but when we walk and hit batters to score runs and it turns into a 5-1 game, it’s pretty hard to win when you can’t produce any offense.”
Hanks was more upset with the lack of offense from the Mavericks, usually a team strength each year.
“We don’t have one tough hitter in our lineup,” Hanks said. “We didn’t have one tough hitter in San Diego. We didn’t have one tough hitter last weekend in scrimmages. We didn’t have one tough hitter today.”
The Mavericks (1-3) had eight hits, but all of them were singles. Tim Fowler was 3 for 4 with the lone RBI in the eighth.
“We wanted to be aggressive on (the Billings) kid,” Hanks said. “He’s a strike thrower. We weren’t going to sit there and take pitches. He was working away, but we didn’t hit one ball to right field. We were going to roll over to the shortstop.”
Billings starter Brady Muller gave up one earned run on seven hits and struck out three in eight innings.
“Muller threw great,” Billings coach Rob Bishop said. “That was him at his best. I was happy how we competed.”