Big 6th inning lifts Mavs past Winona State

Mesa State’s big hitters came through in a big way Thursday, hitting three home runs in a 12-8 victory over Winona State (Minn.) in the first round of the Central Region tournament in Farmington, N.M.

The Mavericks (37-18) fell behind 5-2 after five innings but scored five runs in the sixth inning, one in the seventh and four in the eighth to advance to tonight’s game against Minnesota State Mankato, a 6-1 winner over Nebraska-Kearney.

“We started off a little sluggish,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said. “Well, not really sluggish, their kid’s pretty good on the mound. He had us down and I turned to the dugout in the fourth or fifth innings and told the guys he does this to everybody.

“He dominates the first three to five innings and if you can get to the bullpen, sometimes they give up a lot after that.”

Tony Mueller lasted six innings for Winona (36-15), allowing seven runs on eight hits. He struck out six. Two of the hits he gave up were big ones, a two-run home run by Kevin Becker in the third and a grand slam by Brett Nigbur in the decisive sixth.

Ken Evanson singled to lead off the inning and with one out, pinch-hitter Peter Arakawa singled. Austin Buck singled to left, scoring Evanson and both runners moved up on a balk. With two out, Becker was hit by a pitch and Nigbur hit his 15th home run of the season to right field.

“Petey Arakawa gave us a nice spark off the bench,” Hanks said. “He just put the ball in play and got on base. They had yet to deal with his speedy little legs and he just beat some things out.”

Chris Shea pitched into the seventh, but with runners at first and third Hanks pulled him for Taylor Hamilton, who gave up an RBI groundout and an RBI double that tied the game at 7-7. Hanks then went to his closer, Jack Amidei.

Ryan Shelton’s sacrifice fly in the seventh gave the Mavs an 8-7 lead. Lucas Shaw hit a three-run home run in the eighth and Evanson scored on a squeeze bunt by Arakawa for a 12-7 lead.

Mesa State will send Kyle Davis to the mound at 7 tonight against Mankato.

Top-seeded New Mexico Highlands was upset by St. Cloud State 11-2.


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