Mesa’s bats finally wake up

Provencher’s two HRs lead Mavs’ rout in regional tourney

The slump is over.

The Mesa State College baseball team snapped out of its offensive funk in a big way with a 17-6 victory over Colorado State University-Pueblo in the NCAA Central Regional tournament Thursday night at Suplizio Field. The 29th-ranked Mavericks (40-13) play 30th-ranked New Mexico Highlands at 3:30 p.m. today.

“I think it was a long time coming,” Mesa State senior Mike Provencher said. “When we got back from Pueblo we came out, practiced hard. Skip (Chris Hanks) says the answer’s in the dirt. We just had to work hard for it to get back on track.”
Provencher, who was in the midst of a personal slump, broke out as well, going 3 for 6 with two home runs and four RBI.

“I tried to stay with the same approach,” he said. “I worked on staying short (with the swing).

I’ve been seeing the ball well, but I just haven’t had the hits.  Slumps happen. It was good to come out and swing the bat well and hit the ball.”

Mesa’s slump, during which the Mavs lost six of their past 10 games, appeared as if it would continue in the first inning.

CSU-Pueblo (39-21) took advantage of a Mesa error in the top of the first inning to take a 3-0 lead on a Tony Pechek home run.

In the bottom of the first inning, Kevin Becker, who played left field for the first time this season, led off with a single, but was stranded there.

The Mavericks’ offense snapped out of its funk in the second. Catcher Grant Vickers led off with a walk. Craig Lanzarotta put down a sacrifice bunt to move Vickers to second. Chase Moore hit a deep fly ball to right to move Vickers to third. Then the offense exploded.

“It started with guys putting the ball in play,” Hanks said. “We got some good hops. That’s baseball. We got a lot of those hops go against us in the last few weeks. I thought we were a little tight out of the gates, but we loosened up.”

Marty Rover singled home Vickers, then Austin Buck doubled down the left field line to score Rover. Becker singled home Buck, then Andrew Martinez hit his second home run of the season, a two-run shot into the left-field bleachers for a 5-3 lead. Provencher followed with a solo home run. Lanzarotta came up again and drove home the seventh run of the inning with another solo home rune.

In the fourth, Mesa chased All-Region pitcher and CSU-Pueblo ace Mario Mattivi, hanging 11 runs on 12 hits on the senior in his worst start of the season.

WAYNE STATE 11, N.M. HIGHLANDS 3

The 26th-ranked Wildcats had a season-high 21 hits while pitchers Josh Voth and Matt Meier limited the No. 2 hitting team in the nation to eight hits.

SOUTHWEST MINN. ST. 11, MINNESOTA STATE 3

The Mustangs scored two unearned runs in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie to win their first NCAA tournament game in school history.

Andrew Kinney was 2 for 5 with a two-run home run in the first inning. Greg Laughlin tied a school record for career hits with a single in the ninth.


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