Sticking with what works
Davis follows usual formula to lead Mavs to win at World Series
CARY, N.C. — Kyle Davis doesn’t throw fastballs by hitters, but the Colorado Mesa senior pitches to his defense.
It’s been a winning formula for him for six years and it led to his biggest one yet Tuesday night.
Davis shut down Seton Hill (Pennsylvania) for seven innings to lead the Mavericks to a 6-2 victory in the NCAA Division II World Series at the USA Baseball Training Complex.
The fourth-ranked Mavericks (46-11) are two wins away from winning their first national title in school history. Mesa played for the junior college national title three times, but lost all three games.
“I had an approach going into it,” Davis said. “I told Austin (Kaiser) they’re going to be tired. We’re just going to let them hit it. You saw how Austin did in right field. We had a good approach and were able to execute.”
The victory also made Davis the school’s all-time wins leader with 24. He is 24-1 in his career.
“He’s been at our school long enough, he should be,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said with a smile. “Every time we’ve put Kyle on the mound since he was a freshman we had a chance to win. When he got a no-decision, we’ve won most of those games. He’s always given us an opportunity.
“We moved him around a little bit in our rotation throughout the year. This was as close to the top as he’s pitched in the order since the game against Dixie State to start the year. I’m very proud of Kyle.”
Davis (8-0 this season) limited the Griffins (41-16) to two runs (one earned) on six hits and struck out four in seven innings.
“It means a lot to me,” Davis said of the win. “My high school coach (Joe White) had a lot of wins when he was at Mesa State. Getting that one, this couldn’t of been a better place to get that win right there.”
He pitched into the eighth without giving up an earned run.
By then, the Mavericks had built a 6-1 lead and they started it with the bunting game again.
“We have some guys that can handle the bat,” Hanks said. “Coach (Sean) McKinney works with those bunters every day. We do not miss a day (bunting). As we’ve said, we try to build this team for sea level.
“We still swung at a couple balls out of the zone, but we want guys to stay with their strength early in the count.”
With one runner on in the fourth inning, Mesa put down three consecutive bunts to push one run across. A second run scored on a ground out for a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, Sergio Valenzuela singled and scored on Garrett Carpenter’s double down the left-field line. Kaiser followed with a triple to the right-field corner for a 4-0 lead.
“The fourth run puts us where only a grand slam can tie it,” Kaiser said. “That run was really important to us. In that situation, we had a runner on second with one out. I was looking for a ball I could drive with a base hit to get that runner in. The pitcher threw a ball up in the zone and I was able to stay through it.”
The Mavericks nearly manufactured a run in an unusual way in the sixth when Austin Wallingford started jogging down to first base after ball three. Derrick Garcia, who was on first base, jogged to second. The home plate umpire didn’t say anything and the confused Griffins were late getting Garcia at second. Wallingford came back to home plate and drew a walk.
Seton Hill pitcher Brad Schnelle was called for a balk, advancing Garcia and Wallingford into scoring position then Valenzuela drew a walk to load the bases before Schnelle struck out Carpenter to end the inning.
“I thought Mesa executed really well on the offensive side,” Seton Hill coach Marc Marizzaldi said. “They got a really good start from their starting pitcher. I thought this game came down to execution. We made a couple more mistakes than they did in three crucial situations.”
The Mavericks added two runs in the eighth. Garcia led off with a single and scored on Wallingford’s triple to left-center. Wallingford scored on Valenzuela’s ground out for a 6-1 lead.
Garcia was 3 for 4 with one run and one RBI.
“Coach had us working on pitch selection,” Garcia said. “That was our main focus. The first game we were swinging at pitches out of the zone. That’s what we focused on today. It worked out well.”