Neither weather, nor Chico can stop Mavs at Suplizio

Kevin Becker slides into home as Chico catcher Caoy Lee bobbles the ball-

It snowed one-half inch Thursday night. There was a 70 percent chance of snow Saturday, but the weather didn’t prevent the Mesa State College baseball team from playing a four-game series with third-ranked Cal State-Chico.

The No. 23 Mavericks (5-2) weren’t to be denied beating Chico (4-4), either.

Mesa State wrapped up the four-game series with a 14-7 win Saturday at Suplizio Field to take three of four games in the series.

“We have good character, great senior leadership and a mature club,” Mesa State coach Chris
Hanks said. “We have enough competition at each position, the guys are going to stay dialed in to play.

“We are two-deep everywhere. We have stars you haven’t seen yet on the bench. We’ll continue to challenge them to work hard. We’ll be out here (today) for a scrimmage, take a day off Monday, then go back to work.”

Mesa State senior T.J. Butch got his first opportunity of the season to start, and delivered despite a forecast that all but promised more snow.

“(Saturday) morning when I woke up the first thing I did was look outside,” Butch said. “I checked the weather. It looked like (the game) was going to happen. Before the game I wasn’t sure if I should wear the long sleeves or short sleeves. I went with the short sleeves because once I get hot, you know ...”

Choosing what undershirt to wear may have been Butch’s toughest decision of the day.

The right-hander from Tracey, Calif., stayed warm while keeping the Chico bats cold, giving up one extra-base hit in seven innings. Butch (2-0) allowed four runs on nine hits and four walks.

“The biggest thing was to keep competing, throwing strikes,” he said. “They’re just hitting the ball and getting themselves out. I tried to make good pitches. I had a couple situations with two runners on or the bases loaded, but the defense helped me get out of jams.”

Butch had plenty of run support to work with from the start.

Justin Little led off the first with a walk and scored. Mike Provencher delivered a three-run double in the second inning to spot Butch a 5-1 lead.

The Wildcats came back with one run in the third and two in the fourth to get within one run, but that was as close as they got.

After Little drove in a run, the Mavericks loaded the bases for Matt Bodenchuk, who was struggling in the series, hitting only .222.

The senior shortstop from Boulder came through with a grand slam into the parking lot for a 10-4 lead.

“It was one of those things, they didn’t throw me a fastball all weekend.” Bodenchuk said. “I’ve seen sliders for days. I didn’t really come through in the clutch (Friday) when they intentionally walked Mikey (Provencher) to load the bases to get to me.

“I got a fastball up and went with it. It was one of the few I’ve seen all weekend. It was definitely a mistake pitch. You don’t get a lot of those, but you’ve got to make them pay when you do.”

The Mavericks added one run in the fifth and three in the sixth to lead 14-4.

Chico got two runs back in the eighth on Josh Meagher’s fourth home run of the series and one in the ninth on Adam Arakawa’s home run.


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