Mavericks hosting regional baseball
Mavericks to host regionals
Colorado Mesa was in, it was simply a matter of if the Mavericks would host the NCAA South Central Region baseball tournament.
When the Mavericks were announced as the No. 1 seed Sunday night, the players shouted with joy and some pumped their fists.
Mesa (40-10) will host No. 6 seed New Mexico Highlands at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Suplizio Field, where the Mavs are 27-0 this season.
The double-elimination regional tournament concludes next Sunday with the champion advancing to the NCAA Division II World Series May 24-31 in Cary, N.C.
“It feels good, but I feel like we still have a chip on our shoulder to prove what we really do have here,” senior Garrett Carpenter said.
The Mavericks had a “watch party” Sunday night in the hospitality suite of the Lincoln Park Tower, overlooking their home field.
It is the first time since 2009 the Mavericks will host a regional tournament and third time overall. That year, Mesa won the Central Region to advance to the NCAA Division II World Series for the first time in the program’s history.
Carpenter and Kyle Davis were freshmen on that 2009 team and they believe hosting a regional makes a difference. They’ve each had two redshirt seasons because of arm injuries.
“We have ‘The Pit,’ ” Davis said of the Mesa students who come to the games with their drum. “Being at home will really help us. Last year, we felt we should’ve been hosting. It’s like Carp said, there’s a chip on our shoulder and we have something to prove this year.”
In appreciation of their support, the Mavericks invited members of “The Pit” to their watch party.
Even though the Mavericks received their wish to host the tournament, their goal is to win it and return to the World Series.
“The goal is to be in position to win the tournament,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “We’re thrilled we get to host. We have four teams from the state of Texas coming to Grand Junction. I would hope this community would come out and support us and maybe this tournament to some degree they do the junior college World Series.”
Although Mesa won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles, Hanks said their four-game sweep of Dixie State (Utah) University back in February made a big difference in Mesa getting the top seed and right to host the region tournament.
“The way Division II is set up, the nonconference games are oftentimes the difference maker,” Hanks said. “That opening series against Dixie State that we swept at home, that’s probably why we’re hosting right there. Those are four wins against a team under consideration from another region with an above .650 win percentage. I guarantee you, that carried some clout.”
Tarleton State won the Lone Star Conference tournament and St. Edward’s (Texas) won the Heartland Conference tournament to receive automatic bids with RMAC tournament champion Colorado Mesa.
Lone Star Conference rivals West Texas A&M and Texas A&M-Kingsville received at-large bids. Highlands received the other at-large bid.