9-run first helps Mavs top Metro
A good start was enough.
The 20th-ranked Colorado Mesa baseball team broke loose in the first inning Friday night, scoring nine runs and rolling to a 13-4 victory over Metro State at Suplizio Field. The Mavericks (24-8, 18-5 RMAC) improved to 17-0 at home this season.
“Guys were getting on early,” senior Jordan Liester said. “When our leadoff guys get on base, we’re dangerous. We have a lot of speed early in the lineup. When they get on we’re pretty hard to beat.”
Sergio Valenzuela was hit by a pitch to lead off the first, and the next five batters singled. Austin Kaiser beat out a bunt for a hit. The senior, who is leading the nation in hitting (.522 entering the series), was 3 for 5 with three runs scored.
Nate Robertson singled home Valenzuela before Liester singled home two runs for a 3-0 lead.
“It’s a lot easier to hit when the pitcher is uncomfortable in the first inning,” Liester said. “I’m hitting five hole, and he doesn’t have any outs yet. It feels like there are a lot of holes out there. Fortunately I got a fastball in a hitter’s count.”
Two more runs scored on Tony Audino’s single before Metro State (10-18, 8-15 RMAC) pulled starting pitcher Nick Hammett without an out. The Mavs pushed across three more runs, including two on an error, before the inning ended with Mesa up 9-1.
The Roadrunners responded and outscored Mesa 3-2 from the second into the seventh inning.
That’s when Liester came up again with two on and two out. He came through with a two-run single to center field.
“Skip (CMU coach Chris Hanks) and I were talking about it,” Liester said. “From the third to the seventh we were down 3-2. That’s what he said to me. We need a base hit and a couple runs. I tried to take a good approach and was able to put a good swing on it.
“One thing we talk about as a team is pedaling downhill. Once we’re up, it’s our job not to give them any reason they can come back on us. It’s about stepping on the throat and having a little grit and not leaving anything to fate.”
Liester was 2 for 5 with four RBI.
The Mesa bullpen took care of the Roadrunners the rest of the way.
Dustin Robirtis came on in relief of Matt Delay with two on in the sixth to face Darryl Baca, who hit a home run in the third, and he struck him out to end the inning.
Tyler Dunnington and Daniel Arrellano pitched the final three innings. The three relievers didn’t allow a hit and combined to strike out eight of the 10 batters they faced.
“I was happy with the kids that came out of the bullpen,” Hanks said. “Robirtis came in and got a big strikeout there (in the sixth). If the Baca kid hits another home run, we’re back to a four-run game. Dunnington was great, and Daniel Arrellano did a nice job.”
Delay (4-0) went long enough to pick up the victory. The junior allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits and struck out four in 5 2/3 innings, but he threw 115 pitches.
“I told Matt, you’re pitching in our one slot, but that wasn’t a No. 1 effort,” Hanks said. “I said you have to be at 110 pitches in the eighth. He’ll have to sharpen up because we need a better effort in Game 1 than that. His trouble was he threw too many first-pitch balls. He was behind all night, but he’ll work hard.”
The Colorado Mesa women dominated possession to defeat McKendree (Ill.) University 13-3 in Lebanon, Ill.
Ashley Eickhoff led the Mavericks (7-4) with four goals. Lexie Chavez scored two goals and had two assists. Haley Kroll scored two goals.
Mesa took 34 shots and limited the Bearcats to nine shots. Mesa goalie Lauren Wells didn’t have to make a save in one half of play, and Kady Herzog made two saves on two shots in the second half.
The Mavericks closed the first half with a 5-0 run for a 9-3 lead. Mesa shut out the Bearcats 4-0 in the second half.