Fornelli, Hanks share coaching tie
CARY, N.C. — It was just the second meeting between Mesa State College and Emporia State (Kan.) University on the baseball field, but the coaches were quite familiar with each other.
Although both coaches expected a close, competitive game, it wasn’t quite like some of the high-scoring Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference games at Suplizio Field.
This time, former Fort Hays State (Kan.) University coach Bob Fornelli and Emporia State defeated the Mavericks 5-2 in an NCAA Division II World Series game Monday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
“They’ve got a great club,” said Fornelli of the Mavericks. “I’ve played Chris 27 times. We’ve battled and had great games trying to win the RMAC each year there. It’s neat to hook up with him, win or lose today. We were fortunate enough to come out on top.
“I thought it would take 8 or 10 runs to win it. After the first couple innings, we threw great, played great defense behind it and snuck a couple runs in there.”
The Mavericks, who average 10.5 runs a game entering the World Series, had their chances, but left 12 runners on base, including seven in scoring position.
“We only needed three or four of those,” Hanks said. “Our pitching gave us a chance to win.
If you would’ve told me before the game, they would score five, I probably would’ve taken the odds on that with our offense. Great pitching can neutralize good hitting at every level of baseball. Bob is familiar with our teams. We’re familiar with his teams. He knew we had a good offensive club. He had his guys dialed in ready to pitch.”
Fornelli was as successful as anyone at cooling Mesa’s bats. He was 21-16 against the Mavericks and 14-13 against Hanks while he was at Fort Hays State from 1997 to 2003.
Hanks took over Mesa’s program in 1999.
Fornelli coached the Tigers from 1997 to 2003, leading them to the 2000 NCAA Division II national championship game. He took over the Hornets in 2004 and led them to their first World Series in 2006.