Home, sweet home
In first season-opening home game since 2005, Mavs hold on to top Dixie
Opening the season at home was so odd, Colorado Mesa baseball coach Chris Hanks wasn’t sure what to think.
The 16th-ranked Mavericks scored early and held on for a 9-8 victory over Dixie State (Utah) College on Friday at Suplizio Field in Mesa’s first season-opening home game since 2005. It was also an unseasonably warm 50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
“I thought we were really relaxed, which was nice, but I don’t know,” Hanks said. “We haven’t opened up at home enough to know. We have a lot of guys that need to pitch. We tried to do that today. Each guy had some good parts and negative parts.”
One thing is for sure, the Mavericks (1-0) won only their third season opener in the past 10 years, going back to 2005, when they lost to New Mexico Highlands at Suplizio Field.
“It’s nice to be at home and not drive 18 hours,” CMU senior catcher Colton Schoelkopf said. “It feels good, especially with a nice weekend. It’s not often we get this good weather this time of year.”
Senior Kyle Davis, one of two players remaining from the 2009 World Series team, got the start, his first to open a series, much less a season.
The right-hander allowed three earned runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings and left with no decision.
“Kyle was the least sharp I’ve seen him in five years here,” Hanks said. “That was his first time pitching in the one slot in his career. He didn’t have great carry on the ball. His arm strength didn’t look quite as good today, but it’s early on. I think he can learn some stuff through there. He got the jitters out. That’s a new deal.”
Schoelkopf thought Davis was fine.
“He did good. They just got a lot of blooper hits,” Schoelkopf said. “They got a lot of blooper hits off the handle. They only had two or three hard hits off him. The rest were bloopers.”
Schoelkopf, who had a career-best five RBI, helped get Davis a lead to work with early with a three-run double to left field after Jordan Liester’s two-run single for a 5-0 lead after the first inning.
“That was nice, especially with two outs,” Schoelkopf said of the first-inning double. “It helped in the end. It was a good start to the game.”
Two innings later, he came through with a two-run single to center field for a 7-3 lead.
“He was ready to play,” Hanks said of Schoelkopf. “He played with a purpose. I’m proud of him.”
The Red Storm (0-4) continued to chip away at Davis and Mesa’s lead, tying the game in the top of the sixth.
Mesa answered in the bottom half with a pair of sacrifice flies for a 9-7 lead.
After Jason Ross walked, Sergio Valenzuela doubled to left field on a hit-and-run. Garrett Carpenter followed with a sacrifice fly to score Ross, then Valenzuela moved to third base on a balk. One pitch later, he scored on a Nate Robertson sacrifice fly.
“Those synergy plays, that’s how we play,” Valenzuela said. “Every time, giving everything. We never give up. It felt good. I was 0 for 3. (The double) came in the perfect moment when we needed it.”
Junior college transfer Ryan Reno picked up his first win as a Maverick in relief. He allowed two runs on two hits in 2 2/3 innings. Carpenter earned the save.
Colorado Mesa failed to score a run during the first day of the West Texas A&M Invitational in Canyon, Texas.
The Mavericks, who were picked to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and received votes in the national preseason poll, managed only four hits and lost their two games by a combined 17 runs.
Mesa (0-2) lost its season opener 10-0 to No. 17 Angelo State (Texas) in five innings, then fell 7-0 to Tarleton State (Texas) in the second game.
Colorado Mesa had two hits in each game.
In the opener Jessica Severinsen and Nicole Robinson had hits.
Angelo State (6-2) scored twice in the first inning off Courtney Shreves, added three runs in the second inning and five in the third to put the game out of reach.
Shreves struck out four and walked seven in her season debut, giving up 10 runs on seven hits. Two of the hits were home runs.
Darian Dunn went 2 for 2 with a home run and drove in five of Angelo State’s runs.
Against Tarleton (5-4), Ashley Pulido took the loss, allowing seven runs on nine hits. She struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.
Severinsen and Madelyn Schulz got the only hits for Mesa. Severinsen doubled with two out in the seventh. Schulz singled and was stranded in the third.
Tarleton scored five runs on five hits in the second inning to take control.