Hanks earns 600th victory as Mavs win region opener
It was a memorable win for Colorado Mesa University baseball coach Chris Hanks.
The sixth-ranked Mavericks defeated No. 11 St. Mary’s (Texas) University 6-2 on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Division II South Central Regional at Nolan Ryan Field in Kingsville, Texas. It was Hanks’ 600th career win in his 15 seasons.
He’ll remember who the Mavericks beat for it.
“That was a big win,” Hanks said. “They are a good program. You’ve got a team that won a national title. They are a class outfit. Their pitching goes very deep. There’s a good chance we’ll see them again.”
The Mavericks (45-9) beat St. Mary’s (37-16) behind another solid pitching performance from Matt Williams, this time in hot, humid conditions. According to the National Weather Service, it was 94 degrees with a 106-degree heat index.
“It felt muggy here,” Hanks said. “We are drenched to the bone.”
Williams, who is from Vero Beach, Fla., apparently didn’t mind.
“That’s one of the first things Matty said, ‘This is like being at home,’ ” Hanks said.
Williams (9-1) limited the Rattlers to two runs, both in the first inning, on eight hits and four walks, and he struck out eight. All eight hits were singles.
“Matt pitched great after the first inning,” Hanks said. “I think he was trying to make perfect pitches (in the first inning), and he got behind in counts. He threw up goose eggs the rest of the way. He had a great performance. That was big-time for Matty.”
Williams gave up a single, two walks and a two-out single in the top of the first inning before getting an out.
St. Mary’s starter Rene Solis (8-2), a finalist for the Tino Martinez Award last year, allowed six runs on 12 hits in eight innings, but he didn’t allow a stolen base. Three of the six hits were for extra bases.
“I went through every hitter and game they played in the last month,” Hanks said. “He’s been their most effective guy. I think they were worried about our run game. They were attentive to keeping us from running.”
Nate Robertson led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to get Mesa on the scoreboard. Justin Rosales hit a three-run home run later in the inning for a 4-2 lead. Those were the first home runs allowed by Solis this season.
“Rosales’ was a two-strike home run,” Hanks said. “It barely stayed fair. Honestly, off the bat, I thought we had a chance for a double. When it left the park I was surprised.
“(The park) was spacious. It reminds us of Canyon View Park. It has a lot of foul ground and big alleys.”
In the sixth, Braden Box led off with a double and scored on Kevin Mitchell’s double to give the Mavs a 5-2 lead in the sixth inning. Rosales singled in the eighth to score Box for a 6-2 lead.
Colorado Mesa plays No. 3 seed St. Edward’s (Texas) University (39-15) at 6 p.m. (MDT) today. Hanks said senior Nolan Snell will start on the mound.
Notes: Two Colorado Mesa players were selected to the Daktronics All-South Central Region team. Senior second baseman Braden Box made the first team. Shortstop Nate Robertson made the second team.
Texas A&M-Kingsville junior utility player Taylor Taska is the region’s player of the year. St. Mary’s senior Carl O’Neal is the region pitcher of the year.