Clutch performances help Mavericks run winning streak to eight
Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of Regis University was a study in situational baseball for Mesa State College.
Defense have a couple of bobbles? Switch pitchers to break up the Rangers’ rhythm.
Have a pinch-hitter get intentionally walked to set up a double play in a tie ballgame in the sixth? The next guy up drives an RBI single up the middle.
Have a gut feeling about a pitcher who had back-to-back rough outings a few weeks ago? He throws three impressive innings of relief and picks up his first win.
And that was just the first game of Mesa State’s 5-4, 6-2 sweep that clinched the Mavericks’ (12-8, 8-4 RMAC) second straight series win and boosted their winning streak to eight.
Jack Amidei used a nasty breaking ball over the final three innings of the opener to pick up his first win of the season, allowing only an infield single and a bloop single against a deep outfield by Patrick Farrell, the leading home-run hitter in the RMAC, both in the seventh inning.
“I was really happy with Jack Amidei,” coach Chris Hanks said. “That was nice to see from him. That’s what he can do. We pitched him twice this week, Monday and Tuesday, in live drills, and that’s what he looked like. That’s big for us if we can get him going.”
Ryan Gorzitze got the call to start when Kyle Davis couldn’t go because of the flu, and threw well, but the defense bobbled a couple of balls in the fourth inning. Hanks went to Tim Moore, who got the Mavs out of the inning after only two runs scored, giving Regis (9-12, 5-7 RMAC) a 4-3 lead.
“What I told him was he didn’t get pulled as a result of him,” Hanks said. “You see these snowballs occur. Pitchers are making good pitches and we kick some balls and you leave the pitcher in because he’s doing OK, but at that point, I thought we just needed a new look to break a rhythm that was starting to build on their end.”
“Even though you’re not getting hits, you’re getting on base and it builds confidence and rhythm, so that’s what we did that.”
Mesa picked up a run in the fifth to tie it on a walk and two wild pitches, then pulled ahead on Brian Bello’s clutch base hit up the middle.
Art Flores lined a shot off reliever Bryant Asnicar and beat the throw to first, and pinch runner Erik Nordine moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Austin Buck.
Pinch-hitter Ken Evanson was walked and Bello laced a base hit up the middle to score Nordine.
“It kind of makes you angry walking up there and you sit on the pitch and drive it back up the middle and show them they’re wrong,” Bello said of being the on-deck batter when a guy gets intentionally walked.
Chris Shea, the RMAC pitcher of the week, threw a complete-game six-hitter in the second game. He spotted the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the second, but the Mavericks tied the game in the second, added a run in the third and put the game away in the fourth.
Austin Buck hit his second double of the game to lead off and Joe Schmidtbauer beat out an infield single. Nordine took a two-strike pitch to right field for his second RBI of the game.
“He threw it outside and I just took it that way,” Nordine said. “It’s a big difference, especially from last year. We’ve got a lot of new guys coming in and we’re trying to figure out who’s going to be starting where and when and what the best situation is.
“It’s a fight every day and when you get the chance, you take care of it. It seems like we’re settling in as a team.”
Brett Nigbur delivered an RBI single on a hit and run, scoring Nordine.
“At least we’re not leaving a million runners on like we did early in the year,” Hanks said. “We’re getting some tough at-bats and we’re getting pitching, and for the most part we’re getting good defense, outside a couple of plays in that first game.
“They’re getting better and that’s the goal. We’re still building this team and still figuring things out, but we’re getting close.”