Kaiser, Danner help Colorado Mesa sweep DH from Mines
Austin Kaiser hit a go-ahead grand slam in the first game, and Joey Danner nearly threw a no-hitter in the second game as Colorado Mesa swept an RMAC baseball doubleheader from Colorado School of Mines on Saturday at Suplizio Field.
The 27th-ranked Mavericks rallied to win the first game 11-7, then held on for a 3-2 victory in the second game.
Mesa (13-3, 8-1 RMAC) goes for the series sweep against Mines at noon today.
The Orediggers (5-11, 3-6 RMAC) scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning in the first game to take a 7-5 lead, but it didn’t last long. In the bottom half of the inning, Kaiser hit a grand slam over the left-field wall. Mines pitcher James Wurster gave up a hit and a walk and hit a batter to load the bases with one out for Mesa’s senior captain.
“I was trying to hit the ball hard,” Kaiser said. “I ended up squaring it up well. I was very excited, but there were a lot of other great things that led us to that point.”
Mesa added two insurance runs in the sixth.
Kaiser was 3 for 3 with seven RBI in the game — two shy of Mesa’s single-game record. He is on an eight-game hitting streak and is hitting .536 for the season.
“I’m trying to have a consistent approach no matter who it is (on the mound),” Kaiser said. “I’m trying to hit the ball hard regardless of the situation. Even if it’s on the ground, it gives you an opportunity to get on base. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
He got the Mavericks’ offense going in the first inning when he doubled home two runs and scored on a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead.
Sergio Valenzuela was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Garrett Carpenter’s double to right. Valenzuela got in a pickle rounding third base, but he dove back to third base and beat the tag. One pitch later, Kaiser ripped a double down the left-field line.
“It’s the same approach that we all try to have in that situation,” Kaiser said. “Honestly, I was trying to hit a fly ball, because that is what the situation called for. Sergio did an awesome job of getting us to that place in the first place.”
Mesa added two runs in the second, but Mines came back with a run in the third, then scored five runs in the fourth off reliever Cody Lahman. The senior pitcher had a chance to get out of the inning with a 5-3 lead, but he made a throwing error trying to get an out. Mines pinch-hitter Charlie Basil made the error costly with a three-run home run.
Lahman entered the game in relief of Nevin Wilson in the third, shortly after Wilson injured his ankle fielding a ground ball. Wilson pitched to two batters after the injury, but he was ineffective and was pulled.
Matt Allen (3-1) relieved Lahman and picked up the victory. The sophomore limited Mines to no runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Danner didn’t want relief and barely needed it in his first start in two weeks. The senior pitched a no-hitter into the seventh and final inning before giving up a one-out double. Dakota Behr came in and closed it for his fifth save of the season.
“I thought there was something special in the air, but it didn’t work out,” Danner said. “It was the amount of hard-hit balls they had. It wasn’t the best game I threw all year, by no means, but the ball went right at people. That’s really all you can ask for.”
He missed his scheduled start a week ago against Regis with the stomach flu.
“I was champing at the bit to pitch in relief (in the series finale) Monday,” Danner said. “Kyle (Davis) went out and threw great. A couple other guys that needed to throw got some innings. My arm felt good.”
Danner (3-1) limited the Orediggers to two unearned runs on one hit and one walk, and he struck out three in 6 1/3 innings.
The Orediggers’ Nate Olinger doubled in the seventh to drive in one run, and he scored on a second error in the inning before Behr got the final two outs.
“Danner wanted to finish the game, but I told him we’re going to do the right thing and bring our closer in here,” Hanks said. “In my experience, when a pitcher loses a no-hitter late in a close game, they usually end up losing the game shortly thereafter. That’s what I explained to him. I’ve seen it too many times from the big leagues down.”