Mavs intend to keep up speed in RMAC tourney

Mesa State’s Kevin Becker slides into second ahead of the throw for a steal during a February game against Metro State.

Scoring runs and producing offense has rarely, if ever, been a problem for the Mesa State College baseball team.

In years past, the Mavericks were always able to score runs by hitting home runs.
Over the past three years, though, the offense has gone through a transformation.

No. 22-ranked Mesa State (39-11) is no longer among the national leaders in home runs, but it remains the highest scoring team in the nation (10.6 runs per game).

A big reason the Mavericks have been able to maintain their offensive production is the running game.

“In ’06, we started the process of increasing our situational offense from bunting to base stealing in an attempt to improve our chances to not only beat the best pitchers, but win at sea level,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said. “We’ve always took pride in offense, but when we’d get to regionals and face a better team with a great pitcher, it neutralizes the home run. Beyond that, the wind may blow in 30 mph. We needed to get better at moving runners.”

This year, Hanks put even more emphasis on the running game and it resulted in the Mavs breaking the 25-year-old single-season stolen base record (104) last weekend. Justin Little, who broke the career stolen base record last weekend as well, leads the way with 21.

Mesa has 105 stolen bases now heading into the RMAC Tournament today. The Mavericks play Regis (22-27) at 3 p.m. at Rawlings Field in Pueblo.

The Mavericks go into the tournament struggling offensively, but Hanks hopes the running game will get the offense clicking like it has most of the season.

“The biggest factor is getting runners on base and when you’re not down three or four runs,” Hanks said. “We don’t want to run into outs. Our philosophy this week is going to be push the issue regardless of the score. What dictates it is how good the pitchers are at holding the runners, and most pitchers are average to below average at it.“ We need to get the offense going. A lot of it is being relaxed. What we’re looking for is perpetual optimism. As Colin Powell says, ‘Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.’ That’s his philosophy on leadership. I’m not the best at it. It’s a challenge for me, but I’m asking my coaches to hold me to it.”


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