Maverick baseball team battles back
Kaiser, CMU show resolve in sweep of Dixie
Dixie State was poised to avoid a series sweep Sunday and appeared on the verge of doing so until Austin Kaiser and the Colorado Mesa baseball team rallied.
The Mavericks completed a season-opening four-game series sweep with a 7-5 victory at Suplizio Field.
“I think we showed a lot of character and we are a relentless bunch,” Kaiser said. “It showed we are a team and when we are a team, we can accept our roles and pick each other up. We kind of proved that to ourselves four games in a row. Those were four close games and we came through with good team wins.”
The 16th-ranked Mavericks (4-0) rallied to score two runs in the seventh inning to take the lead and hold on for the victory.
Derrick Garcia led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on Sergio Valenzuela’s single to left.
Kaiser came up to bat looking to get a ball in the air for a sacrifice fly, but fell behind 1-2 in the count. The senior outfielder fought off 10 pitches before drawing a walk to load the bases with no outs.
“I got two strikes on me and it was a matter of battling,” Kaiser said. “If nothing else, putting the ball in play and see what happens. I was fortunate enough to spoil a bunch and get a walk.”
The 34th-ranked Red Storm (0-7) changed pitchers and brought the infield in hopes of hanging on to the precarious lead. Instead, Garrett Carpenter came through with a single up the middle to score Garcia and Valenzuela for a 6-5 lead. Kaiser scored on a double play.
“I was looking to have a good approach,” Carpenter said. “With a new reliever, I knew he would try to get ahead and pound the zone. I was looking for something to drive.”
Colorado Mesa coach Chris Hanks said those two at-bats are what it takes to win games.
“Both of those were tough at-bats,” Hanks said. “Austin fought off 10, 12 pitches. Holy cow, that’s an inning for some pitchers when they’re cruising. At that point, if he struck out you could live with that. At least he put pitches on the pitcher, but he fought. That’s what we need more guys to make that adjustment and fight.
“It’s amazing the things that can happen in baseball if you just put the bat on the ball.”
The Mavericks had a chance to do the same thing an inning earlier, but squandered that opportunity.
Mesa loaded the bases with no outs, but Dixie catcher Ty Johnson picked off Nate Robertson at third base and relief pitcher Kody Christoffersen struck out the next two batters.
“We didn’t even force them to turn a double play or field a ground ball or for that matter catch a fly ball,” Hanks said. “That’s a critical point there, we could’ve busted the game open. Even a sac fly is more productive. We need to see visual proof of improvement from the guys and that’s what we’ll strive for.”
Cody Lahman picked up the victory in relief. The senior didn’t allow a hit and struck out one in two innings. Dakota Behr recorded his second save of the weekend with one strikeout in one inning of work.
“I thought overall our guys did real well,” Hanks said. “I was pleased with our pitching overall. We can still do a better job of throwing first-pitch strikes. I thought we struck out more than we want to. We’ll try to get that corrected, but some of that will come with more at-bats.
“We had opportunities to bust a couple of the games open and didn’t take advantage of the bases loaded. You can somewhat stomach some contact, but in a couple of those instances we struck out with bases loaded. At bigger times of the year, you’ve got to make contact and make people play defense.”
Kaiser got the Mavericks off to a good start with a leadoff home run in the first inning before the Mavs loaded the bases. With two outs, Tony Audino came through with a three-run double for a 4-0 lead.
The Red Storm responded with a three-run third and took a 5-4 lead in the sixth on Tyler Blair’s two-run home run.
Colorado Mesa freshman Jo Bolyard won her first collegiate game to lead the Mavericks to their first win of the season in a 4-0 victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville in the West Texas A&M Invitational on Sunday in Canyon, Texas.
Tarleton State rallied to force extra innings, then defeated the Mavericks 7-6 later in the day. Mesa went 1-5 in the three-day tournament.
Bolyard scattered three hits, walked three and struck out two in the complete game.
Four players each drove in one run for the Mavericks. Caitlin Pattee had an RBI single in the second, Makayla Kovac had an RBI double and Jessica Severinsen had an RBI triple in the third. The Mavs added a fourth run in the fifth on an error.
Mesa built a 5-0 lead in a rematch with Tarleton State, only to see the Texanns score two in the sixth and three in the seventh to tie the game and go extra innings.
The Mavs scored one run in the top of the eighth on Kovac’s RBI single, but Tarleton State took advantage of a Mesa error to score the leadoff runner, then came through with a two-out base hit to score the winning run. Ashley Pulido took the loss in relief.
Sarah Phillis was 2 for 4 with a two-run triple in the first inning for the Mavericks.
Severinsen and Megan Brown each drove in a run in the first. Brooke Ortale had an RBI single in the fifth.