Mavs can’t get clutch hit in season-ending loss at Series

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas —Colorado Mesa’s offense sputtered out at the worst time.

After a dominant season at the plate, the Mavericks came up short in the semifinals of the Division II College World Series on Thursday night, falling to West Chester 1-0.

It was only the second time the Mavericks were shut out this season. They stranded 14 runners and came up empty in a pair of bases-loaded situations.

“We had our chances,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “One base hit makes a big difference in there.”

CMU first loaded the bases in the fourth inning as Bligh Madris and Lane LaCrone sandwiched singles around a walk by Andrew Contreras. With one out, Kevan Elcock struck out and Zach McLeod flew out to right field to end the threat.

A pair of walks and another single by Madris loaded the bases one inning later, but West Chester starter Eric Close struck out Contreras to strand three more runners.

That trend continued into the sixth and Close came up with another key strikeout to end an inning after McLeod had singled and Matt Haggerty was hit by a pitch with two outs.

“Usually I pitch to contact generally, try to get early pitches on outs,” Close said. “But really that came up big and I was able to strike the guy out when I needed to.”

Close had to work himself out of the jams, but still delivered six scoreless innings and limited CMU to five hits. Close (6-3) also had four walks and four strikeouts to lead the Rams to the championship of the double-elimination tournament at Airhog Stadium on Saturday.

West Chester will play the winner of Friday’s elimination game between UC-San Diego and St. Thomas Aquinas.

CMU finishes its season with a program-best 50-12 record.

“I told the guys this was my most fun year coaching, even more so than the (2014) national runner-up team,” Hanks said. “I really love these coaches and players.”

Taylor Prokopis pitched admirably in only his third start of the season for CMU. The junior right-hander limited West Chester to three hits and one run in five innings of work.

“It was just all about staying ready to go,” Prokopis said. “Quite honestly, that was the calmest I’ve been on the mound in a while. After everything we’ve done this year it’s kind of easy to know you have nine guys behind you that are going to back you up in every scenario.”

Jake Mielock worked four scoreless innings in relief, struck out four and only allowed one hit.

Drew Jarmuz scored the game’s only run in the third inning for West Chester.

Jarmuz drew a walk, the only one issued by Prokopis, and advanced to second on a passed ball before he scored from second on single by Robert Knox.

That was enough for West Chester, which had to work its way around one final difficult situation in the ninth inning. P.J. Gonzalez singled and advanced to second on a bunt by JJ Carr.

West Chester then elected to walk Madris and it paid off, as Josh McClain completed the three-inning save with a pair of fly balls.

“He was the guy with a big swing and I didn’t want to let him beat us,” West Chester coach Jad Prachniak said of Madris. “So with a base open we put him on and it worked out.”


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