Davis duels Mines’ ace as Mavs sweep
Colorado School of Mines went for broke in the series finale against the Colorado Mesa baseball team.
The Orediggers waited until the series finale to pitch Christian Rooney, who befuddled the Mavericks in the RMAC tournament last year.
Kyle Davis outpitched Rooney to lead Mesa to a 7-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at Suplizio Field. The 27th-ranked Mavericks (14-3, 9-1 RMAC) swept their second consecutive RMAC series and are on a nine-game win streak. Mesa is 12-0 at home.
“Rooney is a great pitcher,” Davis said. “We know that, so we came with a dialed-in approach against him. We know what he’s capable of, but we know what we’re capable of too. We were able to put up runs and hits and string things together as a team.”
Davis (2-0) limited the Orediggers (5-12, 3-7 RMAC) to one run on five hits and struck out eight in seven innings.
The senior credited the defense, including first baseman Garrett Woodward. The junior caught two line drives that would’ve went for extra bases in his first game at first base. Woodward came to Mesa as a third baseman.
“The defense was great today,” Davis said. “Woody over at first base, especially — chesting up a line drive and laying out completely was probably one of the best diving plays I’ve seen. It’s inspiring. It helps you elevate your game when you see stuff like that.”
Trent Allianic and Tyler Ehlers combined to pitch two innings in relief. They allowed one hit and struck out four.
“Our pitching was good,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “We’re getting the pitching we need. We told these pitchers keep them to three or under and we’ll do the rest. To this point, for the most part have done that.”
Rooney (1-4) allowed five earned runs on seven hits in five innings. He shut out Mesa for a combined 13 innings on back-to-back weekends last year, including 7 2/3 innings in an RMAC tournament victory over the Mavericks that likely cost Mesa a chance to host a NCAA Regional.
“We told the kids you’ve got to be ready to hit,” Hanks said. “He’s got command and is not going to walk us. We can’t be taking strikes early in the count that are good hitable pitches. We don’t want to get down (in the count) and have to deal with borderline sliders and pitches where he can nibble a little bit more.”
The Mavericks got some offense going early against Rooney and they did it without a hit.
Garrett Carpenter was hit by a pitch to lead off the first then Austin Wallingford walked. Carpenter stole third and scored on the catcher’s errant throw trying to catch him stealing. Wallingford advanced to third.
Kyle Serrano walked, then Tony Audino hit a ball into right field, but Serrano misread the ball and was thrown out at second base. Wallingford scored for a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Kaiser reached on a bunt with one out to extend his hitting streak to nine games. Jake Druce, who came in for Serrano, singled to right center, scoring Kaiser for a 3-0 lead.
Woodward made a diving snag of a line drive to prevent an extra-base hit in the top of the sixth.
“That was kind of a reaction thing,” Woodward said. “It was hit at me hard. I jumped out there.”
He is a third baseman by trade, but has worked out at first base the past three weeks.
In the bottom half, Woodward came through with a two-strike double off the third-base bag to score Kennedy Kinkade for a 4-0 lead.
“I was trying to move the runners over,” Woodward said. “My approach was opposite direction, but he left it inside and I was able to pull it down the line.”
Jason Ross followed with a two-run single. Carpenter reached on an error then Wallingford beat out a nicely put bunt for a base hit to load the bases for Kaiser. He drove the ball deep to left field for a sacrifice fly and a 7-0 lead.
“I thought we had a chance to knock them out in the sixth,” Hanks said. “That’s the one thing we have opportunities to really knock teams out, and separate and we haven’t done that. We let teams hang around a little bit and unless we have an eight-run lead, I don’t feel totally comfortable with aluminum bats.”
Mines plated one run in the seventh, but Davis pitched out of trouble and left two runners stranded.