Vickers’ bat lifts Mesa St. to victory
Grant Vickers was upset with an umpire’s call Friday, but knew there was only one thing he could do about it.
The Mesa State College senior from Nanaimo, British Columbia, took his frustration out on the next pitch, hitting a home run to lift the No. 23 Mavericks (4-2) to an 8-5 victory and a doubleheader split with No. 3 Cal State-Chico (4-3) on a cold day at Suplizio Field.
Mesa State lost the first game 6-4.
“I was mad about the (non) foul ball call,” he said. “I knew I was the first guy up. I was looking for a first-pitch strike and got it. If it wasn’t me, it would’ve been the next guy.”
Vickers was upset when a ball hit down the first-base line by Chico’s Jimmy Dodos was ruled fair, scoring two runs and tying the game in the top of the fifth inning.
Instead of arguing with the umpires, Vickers simply waited for his opportunity to hit.
He was the first Maverick up to bat and was still steaming about the call.
All he needed to see was one pitch, smashing it over the left-field wall for a home run and a 6-5 lead.
“With our team, we see what’s important,” Vickers said. “We had to flush that loss and ensure we get a split. We found a way and battled back. No one on the team feels pressure to do it themselves.”
Vickers, though, was the right guy at the right time. He was 4 for 7 with three RBI in the doubleheader and is 8 for 11 (.727) in the series.
“I’m seeing the ball all right,” he said. “I want to do as well as I can for my teammates.
Everyone battled hard.”
The Mavericks, who lost the momentum, had it back and rode it for two more runs. With two runners on base and two out, Kevin Becker tripled to center field for a three-run cushion.
“Someone said (Chico pitcher Michael Gleason) is all over the plate,” Becker said. “I was looking for a dead-red fastball. I sat back and got it.
“I figured I singled. I didn’t know it was behind (the center fielder).”
Kevin Chritz (1-0) worked out of a jam in the sixth and Aaron Guinn nailed down his first save opportunity in the seventh.
The Mavericks nearly rallied in the first game before losing.
“I do know Chico has a good team,” Mesa State coach Chris Hanks said. “I believe we have a good team. This is a litmus test for us. I think it is for them too. They have good athletes, pitchers and defense and I think we do too.”
Mesa was being no-hit through five innings by Mike Robbins and trailed 6-0 in the sixth when Chris Cassell drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk. Vickers followed with the Mavs’ first hit of the game, driving in two runs and Cassell scored on a wild pitch before Robbins was pulled. Chico senior Andrew Pluta was able to get a ground ball to get out of the inning.
Freshman Jordan Lindebaum pitched the seventh for the save.
Robbins (1-0) allowed no earned runs on one hit, struck out five and walked five in 52/3 innings.
“In this park, you’ve got to keep the ball down,” Chico State coach Dave Taylor said.
“(Robbins) was able to pitch effectively to (Mike) Provencher and (Matt) Bodenchuk. We don’t want those guys to beat us.”
The games were able to be played because the city of Grand Junction field maintenance crew was shoveling snow off the field at 6:30 on Friday morning.