Colorado Mesa falls in finale, splits series with Grand Canyon
Colorado Mesa made a late run, but it wasn’t enough in the final game of its opening series.
The Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University baseball team held on to defeat the Mavericks 10-9 on Sunday to split the four-game weekend series at Brazell Stadium in Phoenix.
“We saw a lot of positive things,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “We had pressure situations in every game. To be tested early in the season like we were, I’m proud of the way we responded. We were down 10-3 and didn’t fold our tents. We had a chance to win.”
The Mavericks were the visitors, but they got a boost from former Mesa All-American Sergio Romo, now a relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.
“Romo showed up today cheering for the guys,” Hanks said. “After the game he talked to the team on the bus. He encouraged them and talked about being proud to be an alumni and fighting hard.”
Mesa (2-2) scored two runs in the seventh inning and four in the eighth before the Antelopes escaped.
Brandon Box singled and scored on a sacrifice fly then Jeff Popick followed with an RBI single in the seventh.
The Mavericks attempted to push one run across to get things going in the eighth, but Jake Kluge was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. Popick drove home two with a single to center field then scored on an error.
“The two in the seventh were key,” said Hanks of Mesa’s rally. “The guys got it going. We had some opportunities to score more runs. We came back in the eighth, fought and scratched.”
Erick Kozel gave Mesa a 2-0 lead with a two-run home run in the top of the third, but the Antelopes responded with two in the bottom half. They scored four runs in the fifth to take a 7-3 lead.
Three runs scored on a double by Jackie Samora to left-center field with two outs.
“It was a bloop hit that cleared the bases,” Hanks said. “We got the pitch we wanted. What can you do about that?”
The Antelopes scored three runs in the sixth to take a 10-3 lead.
Mesa starter Garrett Carpenter took the loss. The junior left-hander allowed six runs on 11 hits, one walk and struck out four in four innings.
“He did all right for his first time back in two years,” Hanks said of Carpenter. “He gave us a chance. He got tired and started leaving the ball up when he hit 70 pitches.”