CARY, N.C. — With Garrett Huston back home in Grand Junction instead of on the mound in North Carolina, Colorado Mesa baseball coach Chris Hanks is using the next-man-up approach with his pitching staff at the Division II College World Series.
Hutson, the RMAC pitcher of the year, is being disciplined for what Hanks described as "a violation of team policy." The senior right-hander is 10-1 with a 3.32 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 84 innings.
Although his absence wasn't an issue in the Mavericks' opening game Saturday at the USA Baseball Training Complex, a 12-4 victory against New York Institute of Technology behind the strong pitching of Trevin Reynolds, it could potentially become one as the double-elimination national championship tournament progresses.
But Hanks is confident his staff has enough depth to overcome the adversity.
"We have some really good kids that are juniors and seniors that have gotten fewer innings this year because of the presence of Garrett," Hanks said. "Garrett earned those innings, but I think there's some kids that didn't get the amount of innings that may have deserved them. We have a couple of kids that I really believe in."
Hanks specifically mentioned seniors John Beaudrie and AJ Landis as pitchers whose roles are likely to be expanded over the next week. Landis has already made an impact by working he final three innings Saturday and picking up his first save of the season.
With a healthy JR McDermott and freshman Andrew Morris available to start and NCAA saves leader Will Dixon rested and ready, CMU (51-10) has enough arms to go around — especially if the Mavericks stay in the winners' bracket and don't have to play on consecutive days until the final.
"Those are some kids that are out there that are going to be given a little more of an opportunity," Hanks said. "I think they'll step up."
One pitcher who has already stepped up is Reynolds.
The two-way junior, who has also started 20 games in the outfield, didn't find out he'd be on the mound for the CWS opener until the night before the game. He didn't seem bothered by the short notice.
Following up on his clutch performance in the Super Regional win at Angelo State last week that earned the Mavericks their ticket to Cary, Reynolds allowed only one earned run on five hits in six innings against NYIT.
"It's awesome that our offense was able to do that," Reynolds said after the game. "It gives me confidence going out on the mound trying to throw strikes every time."
Reynolds' job became a lot less stressful when his teammates unleashed an early offensive explosion on the East Region champion Bears. CMU sent 12 men to the plate in the second inning, scoring seven runs on six hits — including two by cleanup man Caleb Farmer — to break the game open.
"It takes a lot of pressure off our back," Farmer said. "First game, a lot of jitters. Once that seven-run inning happened, we just kind of enjoyed that moment and kept piling on."
Hanks provided little information after the game on why Hutson didn't make the trip to Cary, saying only that "it was a hard decision, not something you want to do."
The more runs the Mavericks continue to score, the less noticeable the absence of Hutson will be as the tournament goes on.
"We're trying to score as many runs as possible," said Chase Hamilton, who contributed a two-run home run to CMU's win. "We always say never trust the lead, because we know these teams are really good and they can come back at any time."
All-Americans: Dixon (2-0, 0.77 ERA) received All-America honors by all three associations this past week, first team from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the Division II Conference Commissioners Association and second team from the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Hutson was selected an honorable mention All-American by the NCBWA and sophomore first baseman Jordan Stubbings made the D2CCA honorable mention team.