Seven-run sixth inning helps Mavs stay alive in RMAC tourney
After leaving the tying run stranded at third in the ninth inning Friday morning in a 2-1 loss to Nebraska-Kearney, the Mesa State College baseball team was facing elimination from the RMAC tournament in Kearney, Neb.
The Mavericks made sure that didn’t happen, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 9-3 win over CSU-Pueblo.
Mesa State (34-17) has a rematch at 11 this morning against Kearney in another elimination game. The winner moves into the championship game at 2:30 p.m. against New Mexico Highlands. The Cowboys are the only undefeated team remaining in the field.
“We had chances,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said of the completion of the game against the Lopers, which was suspended Thursday night because of rain and lightning. “We had the bases loaded with one out and hit into a double play and had the tying run on third and couldn’t get him in.
“But the guys bounced back against Pueblo. They battled us early but we stayed pretty steady.”
Dylan Evans allowed two runs on five hits in 52⁄3 innings and Taylor Hamilton came on to get the Mavs out of a jam in the sixth with two out and a runner on third. He got a ground ball to shortstop Aaron Buck and the Mavericks responded offensively in the bottom of the inning. Greg Anderson had a two-run double and Buck walked with the bases loaded after Brian Bello was intentionally walked. Anderson scored on a wild pitch and Ryan Shelton hit a two-run triple to left-center. Kevin Becker beat out a bunt, scoring Shelton for a 9-2 lead.
Hamilton, the Mavs’ long reliever, picked up his first win of the season, throwing 2 1/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out three of the 10 men he faced. The teams played in chilly, windy weather that wreaked havoc on fly balls, Hanks said.
“The wind was just unbearable all day. It just blew and blew,” he said. “It was kind of straight-in from left, right into the first-base dugout. Nothing was going anywhere to left, and if you hit to right in the afternoon, it was cutting those down, too.”
The Mavericks are eager for today’s rematch against Kearney.
“We want to play Kearney again, you bet. No question about it,” Hanks said. “They’re a good club and we have respect for them.
“With this team, we’re still trying to get better. I didn’t say that about last year’s team, but we’re still trying to improve. I still think we can play better.”
Mesa State’s quest to reach the NCAA Division II national women’s tennis tournament ended Friday when the Mavericks were swept by St. Cloud (Minn.) State 5-0.
“We lost all three doubles matches, three really close matches,” Mesa State coach Dan MacDonald said. “I thought we could get one of those. It puts so much pressure on the kids (to win five singles matches).”
Kate Lowder and Victoria Sargent lost their No. 1 doubles match 8-4, then Kaitlan and Kelleen Sera (No. 2) and Cyndle Curfman and Amber Armendarez (No. 3) both lost 8-6 matches.
Lowder lost her No. 2 singles match to Kelly Freese 6-0, 6-3 and Armendarez fell to Samantha Boushek at No. 5 singles 6-1, 6-0, clinching the title for the Huskies.
St. Cloud State advances to the NCAA Division II national tournament May 12-15 in Florida.
“We had a great season, there’s nothing to be disappointed about,” MacDonald said. “We played inside, and they play inside all the time up here. That’s not an excuse, but it seemed like the courts were faster today than yesterday and those kids are used to them.
“They were ready to win. Last year they hosted and got upset by Montana State Billings and they’ve got two or three seniors on the team and they were really focused.
“We got down in all three matches real quick in doubles and I thought, ‘OK, this is gonna be tough.’ We competed hard but they came out smoking and we never recovered.”
The Mesa State men’s tennis team plays St. Cloud at 3:30 this afternoon in the regional tournament finals at Elliott Tennis Center, with the winner reaching the national tournament.