Mesa State’s Fronczak shines in rainy victory
One day after an offensive slugfest, the Mesa State College baseball team was able to put together just enough hits to win again.
The Mavericks broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning and defeated Dixie State (Utah) College 5-0 in a drizzly, seven-inning game Monday at Suplizio Field. The teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader, but the second game was canceled because of rain.
Mesa State (9-2), which moved up to fourth in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division II poll on Monday, got a shot in the arm from pitcher Jason Fronczak.
The senior right-hander from Bishop, Calif., limited the Red Storm (5-5) to three hits and struck out 10, but gave up three walks in the seventh before Aaron Guinn finished it by striking out the side.
“Frony challenged them and did what we asked him to do,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said. “Frony’s tough, though. That’s why I didn’t get him right away. He’s one of the toughest kids we have on the mound, mentally. For whatever reason, he was pitching so well, I didn’t keep track of his pitch count. He threw 128, which is about 20 more than I wanted him to throw.
I hesitate bringing a cold guy out of the pen on a day like this. Frony’s already in the game and with a five-run lead I thought he should have a chance to finish it.”
Fronczak said he simply was losing grip of the ball in the cold rain, but he was popping the glove up until then.
“The fastball was working,” Fronczak said. “I kept throwing it. My slider was basically to show them and get them to swing once in a while. If it gets it done, it gets it done.”
Dixie State starter, Skyler Southwick kept up with Fronczak, carrying a perfect game into the fourth inning before the Mavs were able to push a run across home plate in the fifth.
Grant Vickers led off with a single and pinch-runner Craig Lanzarotta advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Lanzarotta moved to third on another groundout then Bobby Leigh came through with a RBI single to left against his old junior college team to score Lanzarotta. Dixie State, which won the 2004 Junior College World Series, moved up to NCAA Division II three years ago. The school changed its nickname from the Rebels to the Red Storm last month.
“I was trying to put the ball in play,” Leigh said. “He was throwing a lot of sliders and he finally threw me a fastball over the plate and I reacted to it.
“These kind of games are going to happen later in the season in tournament time. You’re going to face that those good guys. You’ve got to play small ball and that’s what we did.”
Fronczak, who allowed the leadoff batter to reach five times, pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth with two strikeouts and a pop out.
The Mavericks gave him some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth for good measure.
With two on, Lanzarotta doubled to score Kevin Becker and Mike Provencher. Chris Cassell followed with a two-run single before the Red Storm got out of further damage.