Black jerseys, sour outcome as Mesa falls 4-2 in finish of hail-delayed game

Mesa State first base coach Sean McKinney walks back to the dugout after a long, long season



The Mesa State College baseball team wears black jerseys for special occasions.

Although Sunday’s completion of Saturday’s hail-delayed game wasn’t necessarily a special occasion, the Mavericks hoped it would change their luck in their regular season series finale against Colorado Christian.

The 12th-ranked Mavericks (39-11, 29-8 RMAC) had no such luck.

Instead, the Cougars (15-35, 9-27 RMAC) added another run and defeated Mesa 4-2 Sunday at Suplizio Field.

When play resumed Sunday, the Cougars had two runners on with one out in the top of the seventh, and final, inning.

Mesa State closer Aaron Guinn came in to get the Mavs out of the jam, but Colorado Christian leadoff batter Chad Barnhill doubled off the back side of the third base bag, kicking into left field to score Scott Myers. Guinn was able to strike out Brett Myatt and Doug Pavlich to avoid further damage, but Barnhill’s RBI double took the wind out of Mesa’s sail.

“We got a good pitch from Guinn,” Hanks said. “What are you going to do?”

The Cougars countered with reliever Lawson Cheek to face the Mavs three, four and five hitters in the bottom of the seventh, setting them down in order to finish off the win.

Although the Mavericks won an unprecedented fifth consecutive RMAC regular season title, the top seed goes into the RMAC tournament at Pueblo having lost six of its past 11 games.

Mesa State plays Regis (22-27) at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Rawlings Field.

“We have some guys overswinging,” Hanks said. “We’re not in rhythm with the bats right now.

The bats have carried us all year long. This weekend, we didn’t swing the bats real well. We’re pulling off pitches; we’re rushing out to hit the baseball. We’ve done that the past three weeks.


Prior to that we’ve been solid from week one.”

Hanks, though, won’t be conducting required practices in the two days before the tournament.

“We’re going to give them a couple days off, let them get caught up on their homework and get freshened up a little bit,” he said. “The hay is in the barn so to speak. The best thing we can do is freshen their bodies and their minds.

“We’ve had our ground balls, our batting practice and our bullpen. The coaches and the guys will be there. The guys that want and need the individual help ... we’ll be there to help them. We’re not going to judge them if they don’t come. There are guys that need to freshen their bodies.”

That includes three regular starters in Justin Little, Mike Provencher and Grant Vickers.
Vickers and Provencher have played hurt the past few weeks. Little, the Mavs’ leadoff hitter the past four seasons, fractured a finger on his right throwing hand sliding into first base in Saturday’s first game and will only be available for pinch running duties in the RMAC tournament.

Mesa lost senior outfielder Chris Cassell on Saturday as well, when he tore a quadricep muscle running to first base, Hanks said. He is out for the remainder of the season.

“Other people will need to (come through in their absence),” Hanks said. “Justin will be there to support us and run. Maybe, he’ll heal faster and can swing the bat and bunt next week (in regionals). It’s tough. This is what happens in athletics sometimes. We’ve got to try to rise above it.”


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