Relievers help Mesa baseball team open season with victory

Derek Benham’s relief pitching got Colorado Mesa out of a seventh-inning jam Friday night, preserving the Mavericks’ 3-2 victory over Grand Canyon in the season opener in Phoenix.

After the Mavericks scored three runs in the second inning for a 3-1 lead, reliever Jeremy Ortiz allowed one run in the sixth. The Lopes got a leadoff double and sacrificed him to third in the seventh when Benham came out of the bullpen.

He got a strikeout and a pop fly to third to end that threat and allowed only three base runners in the final two innings for the save.

“Ortiz did a nice job and Benham did really good,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said.

Nolan Snell got the win for Mesa. The junior right-hander allowed one run on four hits, six walks and struck out seven in five innings.

The Mesa pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts.

Jeff Popick and Dustin Fackrell hit back-to-back singles to lead off the second inning. One out later, Colton Schoelkopf doubled to score Popick. Nate Robertson reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Fackrell. Schoelkopf scored after two wild pitches.

“They helped us with a couple wild pitches, but we put some things together,” Hanks said. “We had opportunities to extend the lead and couldn’t get runs in.”

Robertson, a freshman shortstop from Montrose, was 0 for 3 with one RBI in his first collegiate game.

“We dipped his toes in the water,” Hanks said. “He did good.”

Mesa plays Grand Canyon in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today, then finishes the four-game series with one nine-inning game Sunday.


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