Mavs blow late lead, lose regional game in 11 innings
Colorado Mesa University was one out away from being the only undefeated team left in the NCAA South Central Region tournament.
Instead, St. Edward’s rallied to force extra innings Friday night, then defeated the sixth-ranked Mavericks 6-5 in 11 innings at Nolan Ryan Field in Kingsville, Texas.
“We had that game,” Colorado Mesa coach Chris Hanks said. “We were a hit a way from making it a laugher.
“I feel like we have the best team here. Unfortunately, regardless of personnel, you still have to execute the game. The only way we can bounce back is having a warrior attitude, a competitive attitude. We’ve been in other regionals in this situation, and we mope and pout. If we come to play, we have a chance.”
Colorado Mesa (45-10) plays top seed and tournament host Texas A&M-Kingsville (40-17) in an elimination game at 10 a.m. (MDT) today, roughly 12 hours after the loss. The winner plays St. Edward’s (40-15) at 6 tonight. Hanks plans to start Kyle Davis against Kingsville.
The Mavericks are in the elimination game because St. Edward’s scored two runs with two outs in the top of the ninth on Ransom LaLonde’s single off Aaron Corwin to force extra innings.
“Corwin made a perfect pitch in the ninth,” Hanks said. “He fisted him with two strikes, but it fell in to tie the game.”
Two innings later, LaLonde, who was 4 for 6 with four RBI, doubled down the left-field line to score Kevin Mayo, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the 11th.
Corwin (4-3) allowed one run on four hits and struck out two.
Colorado Mesa starter Nolan Snell allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits, three walks and two hit batsmen, and he struck out five in 8 1/3 innings.
The Mavericks’ five-run fourth inning appeared to be enough for Snell to get a Mesa career record 24th victory. Erik Kozel hit a three-run home run, Kevin Mitchell had a solo shot and Justin Rosales had a sacrifice fly.
Colorado Mesa had a chance to blow the game open in the fifth with the bases loaded and no outs, but St. Edward’s relief pitcher Brad Nasis struck out the next three batters — all looking.
“We had three chances,” Hanks said. “That’s not the worst part. We don’t take the bat off our shoulder. The next three outs were called a third strike, three people in a row. I don’t have an answer why that happens.”
Nasis (4-0), a left-hander, shut out the Mavericks for 6 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits and struck out 10.
“The kid they brought in was good,” Hanks said. “He did a hell of a job, but we got ourselves out.”
The Hilltoppers got one run back in the seventh on LaLonde’s RBI single. Mesa got out of the inning with a double play. It was the first earned run allowed by Snell.
Rosales fielded and threw out a batter in the 11th, then left the game with an injury.
“He’ll be done for the tournament,” Hanks said. “He has a bad injury to his middle finger. I don’t imagine he’ll throw again (this season).”
Matt Davis and AJ Rataic pitched the 11th. Rataic picked up the save.