Ramirez’s complete game sends Mavs to World Series semis
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — You need a short memory to succeed at the Division II College World Series.
In a double-elimination format, the first loss — especially an extra-innings one — can carry over to the next day. The teams that wipe the slate clean are typically the ones that advance.
“Losing that first game of the World Series is really hard, especially out of the winners’ bracket,” Colorado Mesa coach Chris Hanks said. “This is a high-character group and I didn’t expect anything except a great effort.”
Great effort is what Colorado Mesa had Wednesday night as it cranked out 15 hits against top-ranked Delta State in a 6-2 victory to advance to the semifinals at Airhog Stadium.
“We always talk about we’re going to enjoy it to midnight or forget it at midnight,” Kevan Elcock said. “The clock strikes midnight, we’ve got to reset our memory and play it like it’s a normal day. So we just came out and practiced what we preached.”
CMU plays West Chester at 6 p.m. (MDT) today. Since West Chester is still undefeated in the double-elimination tournament CMU would need to win twice (an if-necessary game would be played Friday) to advance to the championship game.
The Mavericks set a program record with their 50th win and improved to 50-11. Delta State finished the season 45-13.
Mesa junior lefty Chris Ramirez (10-1) was superb in the victory, limiting Delta State to eight hits and striking out seven in a complete-game performance. The only blemishes came on a seventh inning home run by Josh Russell and an RBI single in the ninth.
“I’ve been playing this game for a long time and this is my second time in a playoff experience,” Ramirez said. “And it just felt like it was another series. I was just making sure it stayed the way, especially with it being the World Series.”
Delta State’s Peyton White worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on eight hits in the loss.
CMU opened the scoring in the third when Matt Haggerty scored on a single by J.J. Carr. The Mavericks almost added to their lead with PJ Gonzalez at third base after the hit, but Delta State left fielder Juwan Burney made a diving catch on a Bligh Madris sinking line drive to end the inning.
The Mavericks, who are now 44-0 when leading after the sixth inning, added a pair of runs in the seventh when designated hitter Lane LaCrone doubled and then scored on a single by Zach McLeod. Gonzalez followed that up with his second RBI of the game on a single to score McLeod and push the lead to 3-0.
For LaCrone, it was a big performance in his first start of the World Series. He went 2 for 5 and found his footing after grounding out in his first two at bats.
“I was just trying to get my foot back in the door,” he said. “I hadn’t played in a while and I got the DH spot tonight. So I was excited, and I think it was just jitters in those first two at-bats.
“The third at-bat I was going there and was not going to get beat in.”
Elcock later added a three-run home run in the eighth inning to give CMU a 6-1 lead after Russell had homered for Delta State.
“We had a great at-bat right before with Lane (LaCrone) on the hit-and-run,” Elcock said. “So I was asking our guys, ‘What’s he throwing first pitch?’ and I had three guys tell me he was throwing curveball first pitch. He just left one hanging right there and I put a good hit on it.”
Delta State cut the lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the ninth, but Ramirez responded with a strikeout and a pop out to secure the victory.