Closing the door: Sutton secures win with season’s first save
Through 17 games this season, one statistic stood out more than any other for the Mesa State College baseball team.
The bullpen had no saves. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
This is a program that had a guy save 17 games in one season, so coach Chris Hanks is used to handing the ball to a reliever with confidence. It hadn’t worked out so far this spring, though.
Mike Sutton put an end to that on a cold Friday night at Suplizio Field with 11⁄3 innings of relief in the Mavericks’ 7-6 win over Regis.
“We had a meeting for all the pitchers, we had to motivate each other to back each other up,” Sutton said. “It all looks bad on us if we can’t come in and handle the business.”
The junior right-hander came out of the bullpen in a tough situation to spell Scott Bachman. The Mavs led 7-4, but Regis had two runners on, one out and a 3-0 count on J.T. Putt.
“Scott had only thrown 82 pitches, but we threw him 130-some last week and it looked like he lost a little life on his fastball,” Hanks said. “He got down and I went out there and he said, ‘You’re gonna pull me 3-0?’ and I said, ‘Yep.’
“As much as anything, the bullpen’s gotta pitch. It was a good job by Sutton, he came in and did the job.”
Sutton walked Putt to load the bases and then faced Patrick Farrell, who hit his RMAC-leading 12th home run of the season in the first inning.
Sutton jammed him, allowing a two-run single to center. Zach Blakeley lined out to first and Sutton struck out Alex Haag to end the eighth.
“You have to go into every at-bat knowing you’re better than the guy that you’re facing. You have to have that confidence, that swagger, that you know if you put your pitch, how you can throw it, in the spot that you need it, you’re going to do well against anybody,” Sutton said.
In the ninth, he walked pinch-hitter Gerard Mohrmann and Max Regalado singled to left. Bob Terry’s bunt just inside the chalk was pounced on by catcher Marty Rover, who threw out pinch-runner Kevin Smith at third.
Scott Payne flied out to left, and Kevin Becker’s throw to third was nearly in time to get Regalado, who slid in just ahead of the tag. Sutton then got a routine grounder to short for the win and the save.
Bachman (3-1) allowed six runs on nine hits and struck out three in 71⁄3 innings, and his performance had Sutton determined to back him up.
“Coming out of the bullpen, I want to do well for my starting pitcher and my teammates,” he said. “I’ve been in that position, doing everything you can to get outs and win a ballgame and it doesn’t help if someone comes in and blows it for you.”
Surprisingly, the ball was carrying Friday night, in part because of the wind. Farrell’s home run was a no-doubter to right, and the Mavericks got a pair of home runs on high fly balls that just kept going.
Anderson hit one out to right to lead off the first and Joe Schmidtbauer took one out to left-center in the second, just ahead of back-to-back triples by Brian Bello and Erik Nordine.
“We’re getting better. They’ve been working real hard and I think they’re getting better.,” Hanks said. “We’re seeing improvement and there’s still a long way to go.”
Mesa State (10-8, 6-4 RMAC) took the lead in the fifth inning on a two-run double by Art Flores and added two more in the seventh on Chase Moore’s home run into the bleachers in left. Moore went 3 for 4, scored twice and drove in two, and Flores went 2 for 3 with a pair of RBI. Schmidtbauer went 3 for 4 in the Mavs’ 13-hit attack.
The Mavericks won their fifth straight game as they’ve started to settle into their roles. Today’s doubleheader at Suplizio begins at 1 p.m., with one game Sunday at noon.
For awhile Friday, Hanks was wondering if they’d get the game in because of the prediction of rain and snow.
“Barring moisture, we were going to play,” Hanks said. “It’s cold, but it’s not cold like we’ve been practicing through the first month of the season. I know it’s not fan-friendly, but for us and for (Regis), it’s not that big a deal.”