Pressure gets to Mavericks during key opportunity

CARY, N.C. — They were never fazed by having to rally from an early deficit before.

The Mavericks trailed several of their games this season and have won, but they failed to do it twice in the NCAA Division II World Series.

Belmont Abbey (40-25), which blew an early 2-0 lead against Mesa in the first game of the tournament, put the Mavericks away this time, ending their historic season.

Mesa State (44-15) qualified for its first Division II World Series in school history.

For the second consecutive game, the sixth-ranked Mavericks were limited to two runs on seven hits in a 9-2 loss to Belmont Abbey (N.C.) College on Wednesday at the USA Baseball Training Complex.

This time, it was a left-hander that hurled a complete game against Mesa State.

Belmont Abbey senior Andrew Morton, an imposing 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, struck out nine batters and issued one walk.

“This is a team that’s been resilient all year,” Hanks said. “We’ve come from behind in a lot of ballgames. We’ve been strong offensively. We didn’t show that down here this weekend, but the four-run first is never a good feeling from a coaching
standpoint.”

The Crusaders put up four runs in the first inning, including three on a Carlos Vasquez home run.

After Andrew Martinez drove in Mesa’s first run in the third, he was left on base.

In the seventh, Grant Vickers led off with a single, advanced to second on a balk and scored on Marty Rover’s double. Morton, though, wasn’t fazed, striking out seniors Justin Little, Craig Lanzarotta and Blake Carlquist to avoid further damage.

Rover’s double came after Little and Lanzarotta strikeouts.

Morton didn’t allow a single base runner in three innings, but Mesa still had a chance in its final at-bat.

All-American Matt Bodenchuk led off with a double, but Morton was able to get a fly out and a ground out.

Lanzarotta was hit by a pitch on a full count to keep the Mavs alive, but Morton was able to get another ground out to end the game.

The Mavericks, who came into the tournament with the nation’s best batting average (.383) and second-best scoring offense (10.5 runs per game), hit .229 and scored 11 runs in their three World Series games.


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