Little, Box help Mavs sweep Kearney
The caped crusaders were pests.
Colorado Mesa baseball players Colton Little and Braden Box were constantly on base, creating havoc and foiling Nebraska-Kearney’s plans to steal the back-end game of a four-game series on Saturday at Canyon View Park.
Little and Box, who teammates call Batman and Robin, were a combined 5 for 9 with three runs scored and a stolen base in the Mavericks’ 7-4 victory. Mesa (25-9, 19-5 RMAC) has won six consecutive games and swept its second RMAC opponent of the season.
“Me and Robin try to get out of the gates quick,” Little said. “He does a good job hitting behind the runner and it worked for us the past couple weeks. We just want to start fast.”
After the Lopers (10-22, 9-15 RMAC) jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, Little, aka Batman, got things going for the Mavericks.
He doubled to right field, then advanced to third on Box’s bunt single.
“Little got to third and I said, ‘Which one of you is Batman?’ and he said, ‘I am,’ ” CMU coach Chris Hanks said, smiling.
“We came up with it this year, a 1-2 punch kind of thing,” Little said. “When I started leading off and he was hitting second, it came to us. We’re Batman and Robin right now and it stuck.”
Mitch Corwin followed with a single to left, scoring Little.
The Lopers escaped more damage that inning, but not in the second.
With two outs and one on, Little singled to left field, scoring Erik Kozel. Box followed with a single, then Corwin singled home Little. Jeff Popick drove home two on a single to left for a 5-2 lead.
“The swings are getting better,” Hanks said. “I thought our focus was pretty solid throughout the weekend. There were only a couple lapses. We try to teach these guys there has to be a consistent approach. It can’t be erratic or too emotional either way.”
By then, Mesa starter Garrett Carpenter settled into a groove, pitching five consecutive shutout innings.
“I felt good today,” Carpenter said. “I wanted to go out there and complete the sweep. I stayed focused even though they got some runs. I kept my focus and kept making my pitches.”
The junior left-hander (3-3) limited Kearney to three runs on 10 hits and struck out six in seven innings.
“After (Carpenter) got out of the first, he threw up a bunch of zeros,” Hanks said. “I thought he looked good; he’s getting better. He’s coming back and that’s good.”
After Kearney scored one run in the top of the seventh, Mesa responded with two in the bottom of the seventh. Corwin scored on an errant throw on Dustin Fackrell’s bunt and Popick scored on Justin Rosales’ sacrifice fly.
Kearney pushed a run across in the ninth and had two on before Derek Benham got a pop up and a strikeout to end the threat.