Mavs set record straight
Mesa reclaims NCAA Division II single-game attendance record in victory over CSU-Pueblo
Baseball’s attendance record is back with Colorado Mesa University.
The No. 23 Mavericks set the NCAA Division II baseball single-game attendance record Friday night with a crowd of 4,122 at Suplizio Field in an 8-5 victory over RMAC rival CSU-Pueblo. The previous record was 3,683 set in 2005 by CSU-Pueblo against Mesa.
“I don’t think you can get bigger than this,” junior captain Colton Little said. “It’s one of those games your emotions are running high. The adrenaline is going. You’ve got to stay calm, collected and have fun. Boy, was this fun.
“You can’t beat this atmosphere. It’s one of the best in college baseball.”
It wasn’t the only record set.
The Mavericks’ pitching staff combined to strike out a team single-game record 17 batters. The previous record was 16.
Mesa starter Nolan Snell tied an individual single-game school record with 15 strikeouts. Chris Carma (2008) and Bryan King (2002) each had 15 strikeouts.
“The crowd was feeding our energy all game long,” Snell said. “My arm felt good today. I thought I had the velocity today. I wanted to have a good game, but to tie the (strikeout) record like that is pretty good.”
Snell allowed four earned runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, but left in the seventh inning trailing 5-4.
“Nolan pitched very well for the most part,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “How many strikeouts did he have? One more and he would’ve set the school record? … I would’ve made the change anyway. I probably would’ve made the change earlier, but I’ve seen him pitch out of jams before.”
Snell gave up two runs in the seventh after walking two batters and hitting one. He threw 143 pitches.
“Our hitters are fighters,” Snell said. “I knew they were going to come through and have a big inning. We were due. That last inning Mitch Corwin came through big and got that two-RBI double to put us in the lead.”
Little singled and Braden Box was hit by a pitch to set the table for Corwin. The designated hitter fell behind in the count, but worked it full before doubling to the right-center field gap to score Little and Box for a 6-5 lead. Jeff Popick and Dustin Fackrell followed with RBI doubles for an 8-5 lead.
“I was contemplating hard pinch-hitting (for Corwin) there,” Hanks said. “He wasn’t in great rhythm tonight. I was really worried we might go down looking right there. I thought they were giving strikes generous off the plate. He fouled it off, then hit it in the gap.”
Mesa left-hander Jeremy Ortiz struck out two in the eighth to pick up the victory. Closer Derek Benham picked up his eighth save.
“When (Snell) gets in trouble, we’ve got to pick him up,” Little said. “Cody Lahman came in and was real clutch. The bullpen was rock solid. That’s what won us the game.”
Mesa (33-10, 27-6 RMAC) built an early 3-0 lead.
Justin Rosales led off the second inning with a single and scored with Tamatoa Demello on a single by Little. Little was 4 for 4 with three RBI.
“He started me off with a curveball outside,” Little said. “It bit pretty good, but I just wanted to put it in play.
“I’ve been struggling as of late. I got my pitch and did what I had to do with it.”
Austin Kaiser had a bunt single in the fourth and scored on Little’s double.
CSU-Pueblo (25-18, 22-11 RMAC) scored two runs in the fifth on Andrew Castaneda’s two-run single to left-center. The ThunderWolves added a run in the sixth on Curtis Cowell’s RBI double to tie the game 3-3.
Mesa regained the lead, 4-3, in the bottom half of the inning on Braden Box’s squeeze bunt, scoring Colton Schoelkopf.
The ThunderWolves fought off Snell’s attempt for the strikeout record in the seventh to chase Snell. Castaneda walked and Jovany Valenzuela was a hit by a pitch. Brandon Evans drove them home with a base hit for a 5-4 lead.