Solid Snell

Colorado Mesa starter allows only three runs, strikes out 10 in win over N.M. Highlands

Colorado Mesa’s Jake Kluge smiles Friday as he heads home after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of the Mavericks’ 11-6 victory over New Mexico Highlands at Suplizio Field.

Colorado Mesa University’s Nolan Snell gets a little more amped up to play New Mexico Highlands.

The senior pitcher from Albuquerque, N.M., knows some of the Highlands players from high school. Never mind the, at times, heated rivalry between the Mavericks and Cowboys.

“I know a few guys on their team ,and it’s always fun to shut them down,” Snell said. “Their three hole, Kyle Davis, I played against him all through high school. He’s a good hitter. He’s hitting over .400 in the league. It gets me going a little more. I wanted to shut him down. I got him swinging a couple times. It felt really good.”

Snell overcame a rough start to lead the Mavericks to an 11-6 victory over Highlands on Friday night at Suplizio Field.

Snell (4-1) limited Highlands to three unearned runs on one hit and struck out 10 in seven innings for the victory.

He walked one batter and hit another in the first inning with two outs. Then, third baseman Braden Box misplayed a ground ball, allowing one run to score. Highlands’ Matt Guaclo singled down the right field line, scoring two more runs for a 3-0 lead.

No. 17 Mesa (16-5, 10-1 RMAC) got two runs back in the bottom of the first on four consecutive singles, beginning with Garrett Carpenter, who extended his hitting streak to eight games.

Snell labored through the second and third innings, giving up five more walks, but he escaped without any damage with the aid of a double play in the third inning.

“The weather had a little bit of an effect,” he said. “I was a little erratic. It took me a little while to get loose. Once I did, I felt like I pitched with good rhythm.”

Snell hit another batter in the fourth before he settled into his rhythm, retiring 10 consecutive batters.

“We’re working on his rhythm,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said. “I think his rhythm overall is better, but I’d still like a little better strike throwing. It makes it a little more stressful.”

Snell threw 136 pitches, leading Hanks to pull him after seven innings, despite retiring 10 straight batters.

“It would be nice to pitch him deeper in the game, but I think we took him out around 130 pitches,” Hanks said. “He’ll have to get that pitch count down so we can save some bullpen on a Friday night.”

Freshman Matt Allen relieved Snell to start the eighth, but he couldn’t pitch out of it. Senior Luke Anderson bailed Allen out and finished the game. He allowed one walk in 1 1/3 innings.

The pitching staff didn’t have to be perfect. Mesa hit three home runs in one game for the first time since April 29, 2012, in a 6-2 victory over CSU-Pueblo.

“We’ve kind of taken the home-run mentality out of our game,” Hanks said. “It’s nice when it rears its head once in a while like it did tonight. Those kids put good swings on balls. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll take them, but it’s hard to come by with these new bats.”

Mitch Corwin hit a two-run shot to right field to put Mesa up 4-3 in the third inning. Kevin Mitchell followed with a solo blast that nearly cleared the scoreboard. Jake Kluge’s three-run shot in the fifth bounced off the scoreboard netting for a 9-3 lead.

“I thought Kluge’s home run was big,” Hanks said. “That was at a time when we needed to stretch the lead a little bit.”

Mesa added two runs in the seventh for an 11-3 lead, but Highlands came back with three runs in the eighth on four consecutive base hits.

“Highlands will come out ready to play tomorrow,” Hanks said. “We’ll have to be ready tomorrow.”

The Mavericks play Highlands in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today at Suplizio Field.


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