Created: Sat, 10 May 2014 10:52:00 MST
Updated: Mon, 12 May 2014 04:20:11 MST
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The Colorado Mesa University (CMU) Mavericks baseball team is officially headed to the NCAA Regional Championship Tournament, after defeating CSU-Pueblo 4-2 Saturday in the RMAC Tournament Championship at Suplizio Field.
This is the eleventh RMAC Tournament title for CMU, as they swept the tournament defeating Colorado Mines 6-0 in the opening round, CSU-Pueblo 13-5 in the semifinals, and then clinching the championship against the Thunderwolves in the double-elimination format tournament.
The Mavericks had yet another great regular season under Manager Chris Hanks, who led CMU to their tenth RMAC regular season title in his 16 seasons at Colorado Mesa. Additionally, Hanks was named the RMAC Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his career. The individual awards didn't stop there, as CMU right fielder Austin Kaiser was named the 2014 RMAC Player of the Year, finishing the season with a .511 batting average, 11 home runs, and 56 RBIs, all of which were team highs.
In the championship game, CMU got a great outing from starting pitcher Kyle Davis (7-0), who went 7 innings, only giving up one earned run on eight hits with five strikeouts.
CMU got out to an early 2-0 lead after 2013 RMAC Player of the Year Nate Robertson grounded into a fielder's choice double play with the bases loaded, scoring Sergio Valenzuela. Two batters later, Derrick Garcia added to the lead with an RBI single.
Robertson would get an RBI single of his own in the third inning to make it 3-0 Mavericks. In the bottom of the fifth, Kaiser led things off with a line drive double up the middle. He stole third base on the next play, which set up Jordan Liester, who found the gap with an RBI single up the third base side to increase the lead to four.
Tyler Dunnington pitched in relief of Davis, and Dunnington got the five out save, including a game-ending strikeout of CSU-Pueblo's Mario Sanchez.
While the Mavs are pleased with the RMAC Tournament crown, Kaiser noted the team isn't satisfied, saying, "This is the first of hopefully three tournaments. So, to come out and sweep the tournament, it's a big deal. We're excited that's how it turned out, but at the same time, we know we have bigger things we want to accomplish."
The Mavericks are looking ahead to the Regional Tournament, where they are hoping to retain their #1 seed, which would allow them to host. But Coach Hanks wanted to make it clear that the location of the tournament will not affect the team's mentality.
"The goal is to win, whether that's on the road or at home, we'll deal with it. We think we've earned the right to host, but if not, we aren't even going to discuss it. We're going to move forward. So, our intent and goal is to be prepared to play Game 1 next Thursday, wherever that is," Hanks said.
Kaiser was named the tournament MVP after hitting .700 in the tournament, with four RBIs and a home run. The Mavs also put four others on the RMAC All-Tournament Team: shortstop Nate Robertson (.417 BA, 3 RBI, 2 HR), catcher Austin Wallingford(.400 BA, 4 RBI, 2 HR),and pitchers Matt Delay (0.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 3 SO) and Kyle Davis (1.29 ERA, 7.0 IP, 5 SO).