Mesa State tops Minnesota State-Mankato to stay alive in Central Regional
Waiting out the weather turned out to be the right call for the Mesa State College baseball team.
After a nine-hour rain delay Sunday, which included flash flooding and tornado watches in St. Cloud, Minn., Mesa knocked off Minnesota State-Mankato 7-4 to stay alive in the NCAA Division II Central Region tournament.
“It was a damp, muggy night, playing on wet, soggy infield dirt,” Hanks said. “It was perfect conditions for a good old-fashioned robust versus option football game. (Joe) Ramunno would have been licking his chops.”
Mesa backed Dylan Evans’ nine-strikeout performance with 12 hits.
“The guys handled it well and so did Dylan,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said of the longest rain delay he’s ever been involved in as a player or coach. “We ran him back out there. We were saying, ‘what do we do? Let’s ask Dylan.’ He said, ‘I want to pitch.’ “
Evans hadn’t thrown 30 pitches in retiring the first six hitters he faced before the rain delay, and ended up going 7 1/3 innings, striking out nine.
“He was pretty stinkin’ sharp, to be honest,” Hanks said. “That’s probably the best he’s pitched all year.”
Taylor Hamilton threw the final 1 2⁄3 innings and closed it out, including a called third strike with two out in the ninth.
The Mavericks play RMAC rival Nebraska-Kearney today at 2:30 p.m., either for the title or to get to the championship game.
Mesa led 1-0 in the second inning and had the bases loaded when the rain returned. Once the Mavs got back on the field, they acted as if nothing had happened.
Ken Evanson doubled home two runs, and with two out, Greg Anderson singled home two more.
“They were playing him shallow and Kenny burned them over the left-fielder’s head and one-hopped the wall,” Hanks said.
Minnesota State rallied for three runs in the fifth before Evans got out of the inning and the Mavs picked him up by scoring two in the bottom of the inning.
Evanson came up with a two-run double and finished with four RBI. Dustin Fackrell went 3 for 4 and scored twice and Anderson went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs.
Should Kearney win its first game today, it will be an all-RMAC final, with a trip to the Division II World Series on the line. Mesa is 5-1 against the Lopers this season, including two last week in the RMAC tournament. Kearney hasn’t lost in the tournament, so Mesa would have to beat the Lopers twice to reach the series for the second time in school history.
“We’ve still got some business to take care of,” Hanks said, “but I think we’re into icing on the cake time. We’ve achieved a lot. This club has come as far from start to finish as any team I’ve had the pleasure of coaching.
“They’ve got a lot of fight and a lot of focus in them.”