Leahy pitches a complete-game five-hitter as Mavs top Mines
If Chris Hanks was worried how Kyle Leahy would handle the attaboy, he got his answer Friday night.
One week after the Colorado Mesa sophomore right-hander mowed down a career-high 15 batters, he fanned 11 on Friday night in Colorado Mesa’s 4-1 victory over Colorado School of Mines at Suplizio Field.
“I always worry about the player-of-the-week kids,” Hanks said. “You look across the conference, they have trouble handling the attaboy. I told the coaches, let’s keep a close eye on Kyle.”
Leahy (7-0) had yet another dominating night, throwing 112 pitches, 81 for strikes, in the complete-game five-hitter.
Now, if he could only figure out that first inning ...
“I don’t know what it is, I wish I could do it in the first inning,” he said. “It’s just something for me to work on, I guess.”
It wasn’t as if Leahy was wild or giving up wall-bangers in the first inning, when Mines got three of its five hits. Only one of those left the infield, a sharp line drive to right by leadoff man Logan Smith.
A bunt single, followed by a sacrifice bunt, put two on for Mikey Gangwish, who beat out an infield chopper to short, scoring the Orediggers’ only run of the game.
A double play ended the first, and the Mavericks (23-8, 15-2 RMAC) tied it in the bottom of the inning. PJ Gonzalez led off with a double and scored on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Garrett Ball.
That allowed Leahy to reset, and boy, did he ever.
Only two Orediggers reached base the rest of the 1-hour, 58-minute, nine-inning game. After Joe Popp’s two-out single in the second, Leahy retired 12 straight. A base hit in the sixth ended that, so he reset again.
His sixth strikeout ended the sixth, and the next nine ‘Diggers went down in order. And just for good measure, Leahy struck out five of the final six men, including the side in the ninth.
“I just wanted to keep us in the game,” Leahy said. “When we scored one in the bottom of the first, I just said, ‘Start new, the game is tied, try not to let them score the rest of the game.’ That was my goal.”
Mesa’s defense was stellar, especially two plays.
Second baseman Andrew Contreras made a spectacular diving stab of a ball headed up the middle, scrambled to his feet and threw out Gangwish to lead off the fourth.
“That was unbelievable,” Ball said. “That’s got to be top-three best plays I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
In the eighth, after a leadoff strikeout, pinch-hitter John Howard hit a nubber between the plate and the mound. Both Leahy and Kyle Serrano went after the ball, with the pitcher giving way to his senior catcher, who knocked himself off his feet and onto his belly as he fired the ball to first baseman Will Dixon, who made a pretty short-hop pick for the out.
As for the offense, Ball drove in three of the Mavs’ four runs, adding a two-run double just over the third-base bag in the third. Gonzalez led off by getting hit, and with one out, Serrano doubled to the left-field corner and Bligh Madris walked.
Gonzalez scored on a wild pitch and Ball delivered his line drive, which bounded into foul territory after it crossed the bag, causing the Mines faithful to howl its disapproval.
“They were chirping, but it felt good off the bat,” Ball said. “I didn’t watch it, but it felt good. The baseball gods helped me out a little bit on that one.”
Mesa, which has won 10 in a row, only got four more runners on base, stranding two in scoring position in the fourth.
Mines (17-14, 9-9) was coming off a wild 14-13 loss to Colorado Christian (12-19, 6-11) in the first game of the day in the three-team “pod” weekend set up by the conference because of the odd number of teams with the addition of CU-Colorado Springs this year.
“Just being able to throw any pitch in any count, and any pitch for a strike, I was able to do that with all four pitches,” Leahy said. “I didn’t throw too many curveballs, mostly fastball, slider, change, but when I did throw a curveball I was able to pop one off for a strike, which was good.”