Opponents of #1 Colorado Mesa baseball often win at-bats, innings, or starting pitcher battles.
But in 2019, it’s becoming exceedingly rare for the opposing team to outmatch skipper Chris Hanks and the Mavericks for a whole nine innings at Suplizio.
A comeback mentality, timely hitting, and shutdown relif pitching were keys to the Mavs wins over West Texas A&M and Colorado Mines in Friday’s NCAA South Central Regional Tournament at Suplizio Field. Mesa rattled off 10 runs in the 5th inning in a 13-10 victory over the Buffs in game 1, before dispatching the Orediggers 6-3 in game 2.
Game 1: (1) Colorado Mesa 13, (5) West Texas A&M 10
The Mavs, the host and #1 overall seed in the tournament, fell behind West Texas 4-1 after the first inning. Jaxxon Fagg doubled to right center with the bases loaded, scoring three runs. 2019 RMAC Pitcher of the Year Garrett Hutson was pulled from the game after an unprecendented 0.2 innings for the Mavs, his shortest outing of the season.
Freshman designated hitter Hayden McGeary had a career day, smacking a solo home run in the second inning to keep the game close. McGearey finished the day 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs, and two runs scored. The Buffs once again pulled away on a Cade Engle single in the 4th inning, pushing West Texas A&M ahead 7-3.
The Mavs bats caught fire in the 5th. In a 10 hit, 10 run inning, the Mavs went from trailing 7-3 to leading 13-3. Dominic Demarco started the rally with a three-run home run. Jordan Srubbings and Hunter Douglas both doubled to cap off the comeback. The Mavs would not trail again in game 1.
With the victory, the Mavs eliminated West Texas A&M from postseason competition. The Buffs fell 5-4 Thursday night to Colorado Mines in the South Central Regional opener.
Game 2: (1) Colorado Mesa 6, (4) Colorado Mines 4
Freshman pitcher Andrew Morris took the hill for the Mavs in game 2 against the Orediggers. Morris, despite lasting seven inning and striking out seven, came out a little shaky. In the top of the first inning, Morris walked Mines center fielder Mikey Gangwish. The very next batter, Joe Popp, scorched a pitch over the left-field wall to give the Orediggers an early 2-0 lead.
The teams would trade single-run innings for the majority of the game. In the 4th, McGeary would drive in yet another RBI (one of his two on the game) to narrow Mines’ lead to 2-1. After a Gangwish RBI in the 5th inning and a Jordan Stubbings hard-hit grounder past the shortstop, Mines retained a 3-2 lead.
Mesa once again utilized some comeback baseball in the 7th inning. Sophomore Caleb Farmer drove home Josh Shapiro to tie the game, before RMAC Tournament Player of the Year Spencer Bramwell singled, scoring Farmer and Srubbings to give CMU their first lead of the day. Following the 7th inning, Mesa found themselves with a 6-3 advantage.
Neither team would score again. Mavs closer Will Dixon picked up his 14th save on the season throwing a flawless 9th. Morris earned his sixth win of the year.
“Going into it I was a little nervous, but I don’t think that affected anything,” Morris said in the postsgame press conference. “I just had to remind myself that it has been leading up to this point and this is what it’s up to. I’m ready for this.”
The Mavericks survive Friday as the only undefeated team on their side of the South Central Regional bracket. They will have two opportunities to clinch a spot in the NCAA Super Regional Tournament Saturday against Colorado Minesa, first at 12:00 p.m. from Suplizio Field. If the Mavs do not defeat the Orediggers, the pair will play a winner-take-all game later that evening at 7:00 p.m. to advance in the NCAA Tournament. A win Saturday would be the furthest a Mavs team has advanced since the 2017 season, when CMU reached the NCAA Division II World Series.