Highlands ends Mavs’ season in regionals
New Mexico Highlands scored one run Saturday for every time the Cowboys played Mesa State this baseball season in an 11-8 victory in the Central Region tournament in Farmington, N.M.
The Mavericks’ loss ended the season 37-20 and short of their goal of a return trip to the NCAA Division II World Series.
Highlands, the top seed in the tournament and the 14th-ranked team in the nation, was ousted Saturday night by sixth-seeded St. Cloud State 12-8. St. Cloud beat Highlands 11-2 in the first round to put the Cowboys in the losers’ bracket. St. Cloud plays Minnesota State Mankato today at noon for the championship.
Against Mesa State, the Cowboys’ Oscar Sigala set the tone early, hitting a first-inning grand slam off Dylan Evans (6-3) for a 4-0 lead. Highlands added one run in the third.
Austin Buck singled with two out in the fourth, took second on a passed ball and scored on Chase Moore’s base hit to left, but Highlands got an RBI double fro Thomas DeAngelis in the bottom of the inning.
Two more runs scored on Kye Gutchewsky’s single in the fifth to push the lead to 8-1. That’s when Mesa State started to fight back into the game.
Jeff Popick singled and stole second to lead off the sixth and Lucas Shaw scored him with a double down the right-field line. With one out, Moore walked and Shaw took third on a wild pitch by starter Danny Brown (6-2).
Derek Grieve came out of the bullpen and Joe Schmidtbauer greeted him with a three-run home run to center, cutting the lead to 8-5.
But Highlands, which trailed only Mesa State in the RMAC in hitting this season (.379-.371), got two singles and a three-run home run of its own in the bottom of the sixth, this one from Jason Carr.
Kevin Becker singled home a run in the eighth and Brett Nigbur doubled in two more to give the Mavericks a chance, cutting it to 11-8, but they went down in order in the ninth against Highlands closer Tyler Shaddy.
Becker, in his final college game, went 2 for 4 with one RBI, and Moore and Schmidtbauer each went 2 for 4. Schmidtbauer drove in eight runs and Nigbur had two RBI.
The Mavericks lose eight seniors: pitchers Chris Shea, T.J. Stastny, Scott Bachman, Derek Riley and Jack Amidei, shortstop Buck, second baseman/outfielder Becker and catcher/first baseman Marty Rover, who missed the final month of the season with a knee injury.