A historic season
45 wins, numerous team records highlight CMU's 2013 campaign
They intended to play for a national baseball title.
Although the Colorado Mesa University Mavericks fell short of advancing to the NCAA Division II World Series, they still had one of their best seasons.
Colorado Mesa (45-11) finished with only 11 losses, a season-low since becoming a four-year program, and ended up four wins shy of tying a single-season win record. The Mavericks reached a No. 2 national ranking, the highest the program’s been ranked in school history. Mesa was ranked No. 2 once in 2008 and multiple times in 2009.
“Our goal was to win the regional and get back to the World Series,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “We were right there. We had St. Edward’s with a chance to bury them. If we win that game, we might be making different plans.”
Colorado Mesa broke several program records this season — team stolen bases (143), team earned-run average (3.32) and fielding percentage (.970). The previous low ERA was 3.78, set in 1979.
“That’s a testament to our pitching staff,” Hanks said. “We’ve always been an offensive team. The thing that gives you a chance to win is good pitching. Hopefully this group set a new standard.”
Mesa senior Matt Williams led the way, breaking Sergio Romo’s single-season ERA mark. Williams was 9-1 with a 2.23 ERA. Romo’s ERA was 2.46. Williams, though, didn’t pitch enough innings to break Romo’s career ERA record.
Nolan Snell, another senior, set the career strikeouts (307) and innings pitched (258 2/3) records. He tied the career wins record (23).
Joey Danner had the fewest walks (nine) allowed by a starting pitcher in a season, Hanks said.
Mesa didn’t set a batting average or home run record, but its numbers (.350, 44 HR) were the highest since the NCAA changed its bat specifications rule in 2011.
Senior captain Braden Box broke the career stolen-bases record (75) previously held by Justin Little (66).
“It was a good group of seniors,” Hanks said of the 11. “Braden Box was a very good leader by example. Matt Williams and Nolan Snell gave us a chance to win Game 1 and 2 every time out. Our energy came from Erik Kozel and Box. We had character leadership from Colton Little.”
They helped Hanks win his 600th career game in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional last weekend. He is 600-281 (.681) in his 15 seasons.
Although Hanks loses several key players, he believes he has quality returning players and several new additions that will keep the Mavericks’ sights set on a second World Series trip.
“We have some good kids coming back and some good ones coming in,” Hanks said. “We’ll keep the bar raised high.”
Danner and Kyle Davis will return to anchor the starting rotation.
Cody Lahman, Garrett Carpenter, Matt Allen, Joey Capistran, who redshirted, and Tyler Dunnington are returning and could compete for starting spots.
Trent Allianic is a strong candidate for the rotation. He was 6-1 with a 3.96 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings for Ohlone (Calif.) College in 2012 after transferring from the University of Hawaii.
“Trent can be electric,” Hanks said.
Allianic was out this season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He was recruited by several Division I schools before his injury, Hanks said.
Hanks is bringing in junior college transfers Brian Reno, a left-hander from Northeastern Junior College, David Johnson from Colby (Kan.) Community College, Central High School graduate Alex Kitzman, who pitched at Otero Junior College, and Monterey Peninsula (Calif.) College’s pitcher/third baseman Garret Woodward. Woodward was the Lobos’ three-hole hitter and closer.
Bayfield High School ace Clay Miller has signed with Mesa.
Twin brothers and infielders Kevan and Trevor Elcock (Queen Creek, Ariz.) signed early, as did outfielder PJ Gonzalez (Las Vegas) and Central catcher Kyle Serrano.
Mesa also added Jake Druce (Bingham High School, Salt Lake City). He is a catcher and first baseman.
“We’re almost done,” Hanks said. “We’re keeping our eye open for a frontline player in the infield and outfield.”