Mesa State College senior Little works the count
Justin Little doesn’t try to do much when he’s up to bat.
The Mesa State College senior simply tries to work the count and put the ball in play, occasionally beating out a ground ball.
Friday night, Little put the ball in play every time he came to bat, going 5 for 6 with seven runs scored and eight RBI in a doubleheader sweep of New Mexico Highlands at Suplizio Field. The third-ranked Mavericks won 20-9 and 15-1.
With a 70 percent chance of rain and snow today, the teams agreed to play two games Friday. If the storm doesn’t hit by 2 p.m., the teams will try to play one game today and finish the four-game series at noon on Sunday.
The Mavericks (15-4, 5-1 RMAC) had 33 hits in 14 innings and hit .465 in the two games.
“The coaches stressed being aggressive,” Little said. “That’s what I wanted to do leading off.
“It’s a credit to the team and the coaches. They get us ready to go. We go up to the plate and battle. We put balls in play.”
Little was 3 for 3 with his second home run of the season and eighth of his career in the first game. Kevin Becker, Mike Provencher, Matt Bodenchuk and Andrew Martinez each had multiple hits and drove in multiple runs.
Mesa didn’t break the game open until the fifth inning, scoring 11 runs to take an 18-5 lead.
Becker drove in the first two runs on a double to right. Provencher hit into a fielder’s choice, but Becker beat the fielder to second base. Bodenchuk made the Cowboys pay with a three-run home run for a 13-5 lead.
Highlands unraveled, walking the next three batters to load the bases before getting the second out. Martinez kept the inning going with a two-run single before Little hit a three-run home run.
“You probably won’t see it again, either,” said Little of his home run. “I don’t know what happened. I think the wind was blowing.”
Brent Lamaster picked up the victory in relief. The senior right-hander (1-0) allowed four unearned runs on six hits and struck out six in seven innings of work.
The Mavericks’ offense finally got to Highlands ace Gorman Romero in the third inning of the second game, scoring six times to take a 6-1 lead.
Marty Rover beat out a ground ball for a base hit and Martinez doubled to put two runners on base. Little followed with a two-run triple to the right-field corner and scored on a groundout for a 3-1 lead.
Romero (1-1) picked up a second out, but walked two batters before giving up a three-run home run to Craig Lanzarotta.
The Mavericks added eight runs in the fifth, with seven players driving in runs.
That was plenty for Mesa starter Chris Carma.
The senior right-hander limited Highlands to one run on six hits, three walks and struck out five in a complete game.
“I’ve been struggling for a while this season; I needed a good outing,” he said.
It helped that Hanks called him Friday morning and told him he would likely pitch Friday night instead of Saturday as scheduled.
“You always want to visualize how you do before you go out there,” Carma said.