Mavs win despite strong, tricky wind
There were no walk-off home runs, safety squeezes or even dugout-clearing brawls, but there were several plays dictated by 40 mph winds.
Wind gusts created havoc for fielders, playing a part in six errors, including five by the Mesa State College baseball team, but the Mavericks persevered Sunday, defeating CSU-Pueblo 10-6 at Suplizio Field to sweep the series.
Third-ranked Mesa State (28-5, 18-2 RMAC), which led the race for the RMAC title by two games entering the series, is in front by six games over the ThunderWolves (23-12, 12-8).
“We left (Saturday) knowing that was the most exciting baseball games we probably ever played in our lives,” Mesa senior Matt Bodenchuk said. “Against a team like this, they came out ready to play. They didn’t beat themselves. We had to be on our game to beat them. The first game, 6-3, was closer than the score indicated. The last three we had to scrap and earn every single run.
They didn’t give us anything. They played pretty well.”
CSU-Pueblo jumped ahead of the Mavericks for the third time in the series Sunday with the help of Mesa errors.
“Five errors today,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said. “It’s like we wanted to give it to them. We’ve got to clean up our play. Our outfield throwing is sloppy. We’re going to address that Tuesday. We’ve been sloppy with the outfield stuff for a few weeks other than Mike’s throws yesterday. We’ll try to clean that up.
“The wins are nice; the sweep is nice, but we’ve got to clean up some areas.”
In the third, Nick McLaughlin reached on an error and scored on another.
In the fourth, right fielder Chris Cassell, who came in for an injured Mike Provencher, made a throwing error that led to two runs and a 3-1 CSU-Pueblo lead. Provencher rolled his ankle trying to beat out a throw to first base, but Hanks believes “it’s nothing too serious.”
The Mavs turned their focus to chipping away at the lead instead of trying to get it all back in one swing.
“We told the guys, you’ve got to play all day because the wind like today can really change a ballgame and no lead is safe on either side,” Hanks said. “We told them to keep playing the game. When we got behind, we just felt like we needed to be a little more disciplined at the plate.”
With two runners on base and one out in the fifth, Cassell beat out a bunt for a base hit. CSU-Pueblo pitcher Scott Harshman tried to get the led runner at third, but threw wild, allowing Justin Little to score. Two batters later, Kevin Becker scored on a bases-loaded walk.
“In the fifth, we said, we’re going to play for one and we end up with two,” Hanks said. “Then we went out in the bottom of the sixth, let’s just tie the game and it ended up a four-run inning.”
Marty Rover led off the sixth with a single and scored on a double steal. Becker singled home the go-ahead run then Bodenchuk delivered a two-run home run for a 7-4 lead.
The ThunderWolves came back to score two runs in the seventh before Mesa turned its third of four double plays on the day to get out of the jam.