After two heartbreaking losses, Dixie State University baseball secured two wins of the four game series against the third ranked Colorado Mesa University over the weekend.
Each game of the series was decided by just one run. Both losses came in the form of walk-offs as the Mavericks scored game-winning runs in each of the first two games of the series.
Sophomore pitcher Dylan File took the mound for the Storm, striking out eight batters and allowing just one run on four hits in his 7 2/3 innings pitched. Despite the effort, File earned a no decision in the game.
“I was really happy with the way I pitched,” said File, a criminal justice major from St. George. “Knowing that I can shut down a team like that brings a lot of confidence.”
Junior outfielder Miles Bice drove home the lone run for the Storm on a single that scored redshirt senior infielder Sam Hall.
With the game knotted up at one apiece, the game went to extra innings, in which the Mavericks loaded the bases and, with two outs, drove home the winning run, giving them the victory 2-1.
“Our goal is to win each series we play,” head coach Chris Pfatenhauer said. “After losing a game like that, I always remind my players that you can’t get the game back. You have to move forward.”
DSU struggled offensively in its second game as it was held scoreless until the seventh inning, in which it scored three runs to tie the game. After CMU took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, redshirt junior outfielder Ryan Rodriguez doubled home the tying run.
The final inning was equally disappointing as the previous game as the Mavericks scored the winning run on a double, landing them on top, 5-4.
The first five batters in the Storm’s lineup recorded nine of the 11 DSU hits in the affair. They also were responsible for driving in each of the four runs in the game.
“It was tough to get over those two loses,” Pfatenhauer said. “After the losses, we set our goals at getting two wins, and we were able to do that.”
DSU got off to a quick start in game three of the series by scoring five runs in the first two innings of play. The Storm scored their final run in the fifth inning before locking down the 6-5 victory.
“It was heartbreaking that we lost two games we could have won, but it’s definitely a builder knowing that we can rally back and win two,” File said.
Junior pitcher Mason Hilty allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings of work and earned the victory. Hilty is 4-0 from the mound in the young season.
The final game of the series saw the Storm score three runs in the top of the first inning. CMU, however, would score six runs while keeping the Storm quiet and held a 6-3 lead going into the top of the seventh. DSU exploded for a six-run inning, followed by three runs in the top of the eighth.
The Mavericks would then push across six runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score at 12 going into the final inning. Redshirt junior outfielder Jerome Hill II sent a double down the left-field line, scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth to help give the Storm the 13-12 victory.
“To rebound from those losses was extremely rewarding,” Pfatenhauer said. “We gained a lot of confidence. It meant a lot, especially to do it in their hostile environment.”
Redshirt senior infielder Tanner Morache led the DSU offense going 3-6 with three RBIs. Redshirt juniors Drew McLaughlin and Reece Lucero each went 2-5 with two RBIs to help the Storm. Rodriguez went a combined 8-14 throughout the series.
“As a designated hitter, I always just try to stay focused and stay loose,” said Rodriguez, a business administration major from Folsom, California. “I’ve always got a bat in my hands and always stay ready to go.”
DSU sports a 12-2 record and will return home to begin its Pacific West Conference schedule against California Baptist University.
“We are going to focus on not looking too far ahead,” Rodriguez said. “We need to take each series one at a time and try to win every series.”
The four-game series against CBU will start Thursday at 6 p.m. All games will be played at Bruce Hurst Field.