Colorado Mesa thrilled to play at renovated Suplizio Field
Friday is Colorado Mesa University’s 39th game of the baseball season and 17th home game, but it might feel more like a postseason game.
The No. 24 Mavericks (28-10, 22-6 RMAC) christen renovated Suplizio Field against Metro State (11-23, 8-20 RMAC) at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The teams will play a doubleheader there at 1 p.m. Saturday and one game at noon Sunday.
Friday’s game is the Mavs’ annual Game of Hope to benefit the American Cancer Society and the first chance for fans to see the stadium renovations. Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens (60-older) and $3 for students. CMU students and employees are admitted free with their Mav Card.
“(Suplizio) is one of the big reasons I came here,” CMU junior Justin Rosales said. “I didn’t know much about this place when Coach (Chris Hanks) recruited me. I looked up the facilities and Suplizio is top of the line, especially being brand new with all this stuff.”
Nolan Snell will likely start on the mound for the Mavericks. His parents are making the trip from Albuquerque, N.M., for the game.
“I’m thrilled,” he said. “I couldn’t be any happier. It’s not every day you get to throw the first pitch in a brand new minor league stadium like that.”
The junior right-hander, known to have control problems at times, realizes all the hoopla about the night will be a challenge, but believes he’s experienced enough to handle it.
“I know I kind of have a reputation as a wilder pitcher than a lot of other guys in the conference,” Snell said. “It’s going to be like starting Game 1 against Grand Canyon earlier this season. I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous, but I think I have a little more experience and be able to calm the nerves.”
The anticipated energy and excitement can make it difficult for the players to perform.
“You worry about those same emotions in a championship game or a rival game that means a lot,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “There is going to be some of those early on. We’ve just got to shorten the duration it lasts. It can’t last more than an inning.
“I know they are very excited to be back over there, though. Hopefully it will give us energy. I know Metro and teams that come in there enjoy playing there. We have to match that excitement level and intensity level. It comes down to focus. As coaches, that’s our job to make sure we’re focused.”
The Mavericks had a chance to see the recently completed renovations earlier this week for their team picture.
“That was one of the few times I’ve actually got to look at the field and it’s amazing,” outfielder Mitch Corwin said.
“A lot of guys were asking if we get to practice on the field before we play,” Snell said. “On a field that nice, a lot of times you go to a field worried about not knowing how the infield plays. All I told those guys, you have nothing to worry about. It is very playable, very flat. The grass is perfectly cut.”
Canyon View Park was fine, the players said, but it doesn’t compare to playing a night game in front of a good crowd.
“Probably playing under the lights,” Corwin said. “That’s going to be awesome. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd out there, too. That will be awesome.”
It is only Mesa’s third game under the lights this season. The first one was the first game of the season, back in February at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, and then again in early March at CSU-Pueblo.
“Canyon View is a nice field, but it’s not the Suplizio Field atmosphere,” Rosales said. “It’s going to be pretty awesome.”