Mavericks on verge of elimination
PUEBLO — Only two short weeks ago, the Mesa State College baseball team was the No. 2-ranked team in the country.
After Wednesday, the Mavericks are on the brink of being eliminated from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference baseball tournament.
Sixth-seeded Regis University pulled off the improbable in the opening round of the four-day, six-team, double-elimination game Wednesday by rocking top-seeded and now
No. 22-ranked Mesa State 16-10 at Rawlings Field.
The Mavs (39-12), who remained atop the latest NCAA Division II Central Region poll, now face the possibility of being ousted from the tournament when they take on the loser of Wednesday’s late game between second seed CSU-Pueblo and fifth seed Nebraska-Kearney at noon today.
Mesa State head coach Chris Hanks was at a loss for words after the loss, Mesa’s seventh in its past 12 outings.
“I don’t know what to say. We’re in a bad place,” Hanks said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance from the first inning. We’re weathering the storm right now and we’re going to keep plugging away.
“We’ll try and regroup. We’re in a fog right now. The kids are trying. They are playing hard but not playing smart.”
The matchup favored Mesa State in every conceivable way.
The Rangers had lost in all seven previous meetings with the Mavericks this season and were outscored 96-46.
Three Mesa State errors proved extremely costly in the game, leading directly to seven Regis runs. Mesa’s pitchers had trouble recording outs, especially starter Andy Williams
(4-1), who lasted only 21/3 innings after surrendering nine runs on eight hits.
The Rangers took advantage, scoring four runs in each of the first three innings to build a 12-5 lead.
The Mavs rallied to close the gap to 16-10 with a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth. But they missed an opportunity when Andrew Martinez, who stepped to the plate with four hits and five RBI, struck out with the bases loaded.
They also left two runners aboard in the ninth and the game ended with RMAC player of the year Matt Bodenchuk, who was 0 for 5, striking out for the second time in the game.
Bodenchuk hit .455 with 15 home runs and 82 RBI to earn RMAC player of the year honors. Hanks is the RMAC coach of the year after leading the Mavs to a fifth consecutive RMAC regular season title.
Junior second baseman Kevin Becker, senior outfielder Mike Provencher, senior pitchers Brent Lamaster and Aaron Guinn made the first team with Bodenchuk.
Senior catcher Grant Vickers, junior first baseman Marty Rover, senior third baseman Andrew Martinez, senior outfielder Justin Little and senior pitcher Jason Fronczak made the second team. Third team selections were senior outfielder Craig Lanzarotta, senior pitcher Chris Carma and junior pitcher Scott Bachman.