Mesa win streak ends with split vs. Pueblo
Colorado Mesa won in dramatic fashion to keep its winning streak alive Saturday, then saw it disappear.
Shortly after Braden Box scored the game-winner from second base on a wild pitch in the first game, Colorado State University-Pueblo handed the Mavericks their second Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference loss of the season to get a doubleheader split at Suplizio Field.
The ThunderWolves defeated sixth-ranked Colorado Mesa 12-5 after the Mavericks’ 7-6 win in the first game.
“I think emotions were running pretty high,” Box said. “We kind of thought we stuck the knife in and it was going to be over, but they came out and fired right at us. It took us an inning or two to finally get our wits about us and come back with the energy we needed.”
CSU-Pueblo (16-14, 12-9 RMAC) built an 8-0 lead by the second inning of the second game off Mesa starter Joey Danner (6-1) and never let go.
“He didn’t have his stuff, no rhythm, no command,” Mesa coach Chris Hanks said. “I think he was trying to work too fast. His rhythm wasn’t good. He started the game throwing four straight balls. He’s never done that before.”
Danner allowed seven runs on six hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
Tamatoa Demello put out the fire and gave Mesa a chance to rally. He limited CSU-Pueblo to two runs on two hits in four innings in his longest stint of the season.
The Mavericks (25-6, 19-2 RMAC) cut the lead to three by the end of the fifth.
Garrett Carpenter doubled, extending his hit streak to 18 games, and scored on a ground out. Then, Justin Rosales hit a two-run home run.
Austin Wallingford followed with a double, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple for the third out. He bounced up said something to CSU-Pueblo pitcher and former high school rival Mike Fabrizio, who was ejected for making an inappropriate hand gesture.
The ThunderWolves responded with four runs in the sixth to squash Mesa’s hopes of another rally.
Although Fabrizio was ejected, he picked up the victory, limiting the Mavericks to five runs on eight hits in five innings.
The win was redemption after throwing the wild pitch that allowed Box to score the winning run in the first game.
The Mavericks had to rally in the opener because CSU-Pueblo scored six runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-4 lead.
The ThunderWolves had three consecutive hits to open the frame to chase Mesa starter Matt Williams. The senior allowed three runs on five hits in six innings.
Hanks went to Carpenter, who got the first two batters out but couldn’t get the third.
CSU-Pueblo’s Cameron Buckles tripled home three runs for a 5-4 lead, then scored on a Chase Lacomb single.
“We just couldn’t close it out,” Hanks said. “Carp has trouble, but Carp hasn’t pitched in a while. That’s some of the problem there. We should’ve never been in that situation.”
Mesa responded, though, as Kevin Mitchell doubled and Austin Kaiser was hit by a pitch. With two outs, and a 2-2 count, Box singled through the right side to score Mitchell.
“I was trying to stay calm,” Box said. “The biggest problem a hitter faces is when you start rushing because the pressure is on. I tried to stay calm. Finally I got my pitch, and away it went.”
Erik Kozel walked and Pueblo brought in Fabrizio, who threw the ball to the backstop, allowing the tying and winning run to score.
“It was interesting,” Box said. “It’s one of those things it gets everyone pumped up, but it’s not the way we’d like to win. We would’ve liked to have held it the whole game and not worry about it. When it came down to it, we clutched up and everybody got their job done.”