Do-it-all Demello

Versatility the name of the game for Mavericks' CF

Tamatoa Demello’s defensive ability helped him earn the starting center field spot for Colorado Mesa.



Colorado Mines (5-7, 4-4 RMAC) at Colorado Mesa (12-6, 6-2 RMAC)

Games: 3:30 p.m., Friday; 1 p.m. (DH), Saturday; Noon, Sunday. All at Canyon View Park

Notes: The Mavericks are home for the first time since February 10-12 when they hosted UC-San Diego in a four-game non-conference series. Mesa’s offense is off to a slow start, hitting .290, but the pitching staff leads the RMAC in ERA (4.04) and the defense is fourth in the nation with a .979 fielding percentage. “We’ve played 18 games, 14 of them on the road,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “We’re playing good defense and we’re pitching. AT every level of baseball those are two of the largest keys to success. Last year, we weren’t overly offensive and we were one game away from getting to the World Series. We preach to the guys from the beginning we’ve got to pitch and play defense. We’ve got to be able to bunt, hit and run and advance runners. We’re not doing that as well as I’d like, but we’re winning games.”

Once he experienced the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, Tamatoa Demello knew where he wanted to play.

The Colorado Mesa junior from Hawaii returned to Grand Junction to play every day at Suplizio Field, but he’ll have to wait until renovations are done. The Mavericks (12-6) host the Colorado School of Mines in a four-game RMAC series beginning at 3:30 p.m. today at Canyon View Park.

“I’m excited to play at Suplizio,” Demello said. “It’s a beautiful park. People here are great, you know.

“I wish we can play there every day, but next year we will.”

Demello played two years at the College of Southern Nevada, including the 2010 season with Bryce Harper when the Coyotes played in the JUCO World Series.

“It was exactly what (Southern Nevada coach Tim) Chambers said it was going to be,” Demello said. “He had tapes and videos of them in 2003 when they won it. We expected to come here. We made it here. We didn’t pull it off, but it was still a great experience.”

“It was fun. (Harper) brought a lot of people to the games. He was a great hitter.”

After he finished playing at Southern Nevada, Demello played on the Gunnison Colts’ summer league team before coming to Mesa.

Demello is one of two players in Mesa’s program that played in the JUCO World Series. Pitcher Matt Williams played for Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, but he is redshirting this year after transferring from the University of Tampa (Fla.), an NCAA Division II program.

“(Demello) is a kid Tim Chambers told us about,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “He played about half the time with Southern Nevada. We saw him at the World Series and liked him. He expressed interest in Mesa. That’s how it was born. As it turned out, he ended up coming here and it’s been a good fit.”

Demello wasn’t aware of the Lincoln Park Sports Complex $8.3 million upgrade until after he arrived on campus in the fall.

The only Hawaiian on the team has fit in quickly with his new teammates.

“He’s a great personality,” Hanks said. “He’s easy to get along with. He has a real positive attitude. He’s a pleasure to have on the team.”

Demello has earned the respect of his teammates with his play in center field, earning one of the two open starting outfield positions. He has started six games and is hitting .265 with three doubles and seven RBI this season.

“We have some guys we rotate in and out, but for all intents and purposes, he’s our regular center fielder,” Hanks said. “He is a kid that has really good tools. He has an above average arm. He’s got good speed. He’s got great instincts tracking the baseball.

“He’s come in and provided some stability defensively. We need him to hit a little bit better, but I think he has the ability to hit. He hasn’t hit stride yet. He can and will be a better hitter than his production shows to this point.”

Demello can also pitch. He’s thrown 1 1/3 innings for the Mavericks and will likely pitch more, Hanks said.

“He’s a natural thrower,’ Hanks said. “You put him on the mound and pitching’s very easy for him.”


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