Bullpen falters in Mavs’ loss

A five-run eighth inning gave Colorado Mesa University’s baseball team a seemingly comfortable 11-6 lead Friday against New Mexico Highlands.

The Cowboys, though, scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth and won it with a three-run ninth inning to beat the Mavericks 12-11 in the first game of a four-game series in Las Vegas, N.M.

The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for Colorado Mesa (14-4, 9-2 RMAC).

Nate Robertson triggered CMU’s five-run eighth with a leadoff double, and Jordan Liester drove a home run to center field. After Austin Wallingford walked and stole second, Sergio Valenzuela hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to right.

Austin Kaiser singled with two out, and Garrett Woodward followed with an RBI double down the right-field line to give the Mavericks an 11-6 lead.

Highlands, though, scored three runs in the eighth with two out when Andrew Ratterman hit a ground-rule double with two on and Nick Gonzales followed with an RBI double.

After the Mavericks went down in order in the top of the ninth, the Cowboys (12-10, 9-3) went right back to work against Dakota Behr, who came on with two out in the eighth.

Jarred Middleton and Joe Cervantes hit back-to-back singles, and Javier Ledford got one run home on a base hit through the right side of the infield, cutting the lead to 11-10. Pinch-hitter Matthew Chavez fouled off three pitches, and on a full count, doubled home the tying and winning runs.

The teams combined for 23 runs on 34 hits, 16 for extra bases. Of Mesa’s 16 hits, five were doubles and three left the park — Woodward led off the second with a home run to right.

CMU also scored five runs in the fourth inning, with Robertson and Valenzuela hitting RBI singles, Wallingford an RBI double and Derrick Garcia lifting a sacrifice fly to center.

Valenzuela went 3 for 3, drove in three runs and scored twice from the leadoff spot. Woodward and Kaiser each went 2 for 5, with Woodward driving in two runs, and Liester had two RBI.

Matt Delay started for Mesa and threw six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits and striking out two.

The teams, who lead their respective divisions in the RMAC, play a doubleheader today starting at 1 p.m.


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