GOLDEN (Mar 19, 2017)– Poor pitching and defense hindered the ability of the MSU Denver baseball team to be competitive in their four-game series at Colorado School of Mines, losing three games.
The series drops their overall record to 10-12, and their conference record to 6-6. An alarming pattern is beginning to show, as they are now 3-8 on the road.
In total, the Roadrunners were outscored 44-30. However, when converting to earned runs, they were outscored 34-27, allowing 10 unearned runs in the series. They committed eight errors across the four games, although limited much of that issue to game one, where they committed six errors.
Cale O’Donnell continued his power trend, launching three homers in the series, bringing his season total to nine which tops the RMAC by two, and raising his season batting average to .390. He is currently on a seven-game hitting streak, and has hits in all but three of his 20 starts.
With Marcus Bean’s homers in game one and two, he hit homers in three straight carrying over from the previous weekend.
MSU Denver hit nine home runs total in the series, including a Trent Maloney grand slam in game four.
Beecher Strube’s five innings in game one were the most pitched by a Runners starter in the series. Despite the short outings from starters, games one through three saw only two MSU Denver relievers each, which became relevant when seven players were called on to take the mound in game four.
Starting March 24, the Runners take on the Adams State University Grizzlies, who stand at 8-14 on the season and 2-6 in RMAC play.
Game One (Mar 17): MSU Denver 5, School of Mines 11
Defensive issues spelled doom for the Roadrunners in a game where seven of the eleven runs they allowed were unearned.
Things started off well for the Runners, as starter Beecher Strube allowed only one runner in the first two innings on a throwing error by third baseman Adam Tulley. In the third, they took the lead on a solo home run by catcher Marcus Bean and an RBI single off the bat of left fielder Hunter Donaldson.
It was the bottom of the third where things began unraveling. The Mines leadoff hitter reached on a fielding error by Tulley. He would advance to third and score on a single that got past center fi elder Jake Ekman. A double and a single later and the Runners were trailing 3-2 despite having yielded no earned runs to the point and Strube starting the inning with three consecutive playable ground balls.
In the fifth, the Orediggers added three more on a home run, an RBI single and a sacrifice fly enabled by a throwing error by Bean on a steal attempt, allowing the runner to take two bases instead of one. The score stood at 6-2.
This would be Strube’s final inning of work, closing his line at five innings pitched, six runs (though only two earned) on six hits with a walk and no strikeouts.
In the sixth, the Runners capitalized on some poor defense themselves, recording two unearned runs in the inning thanks to a passed ball and a fielding error by the Mines first baseman. They would score one more time in the eighth thanks to Cale O’Donnell’s opposite field home run for his sixth of the season. They would finish with five runs total, three earned.
They concluded the scoring in the bottom of the eighth on two unearned runs generated by a dropped fly ball and a wild pitch.
Oredigger pitching, spearheaded by starter Tyler Thomas, struck out 12 Runners while walking only two, ceding five runs but only three earned.
The Runners’ six errors allowed Mines to finish with a line of 11 runs on 10 hits. Mines committed one error. MSU Denver scored five runs on eight hits.
Game Two (Mar 18): MSU Denver 11, School of Mines 8
Four multi-run innings proved key for the Runners in their first victory of the series.
They started strong offensively, putting two runs on the board in the first thanks to an RBI double from Cale O’Donnell and a sacrifice fly by Sean Kennedy.
However, the bottom of the frame saw more of the questionable defense from the first game as 11 Orediggers came to the plate against Javi Vega, scoring four runs. A throwing error from Adam Tulley, a passed ball, a wild pitch, a routine fly ball that turned into a double after left fielder Hunter Donaldson lost it in the sun and an infield single only produced one official error but greatly extended the inning. Two of the four runs were unearned, though the scorer generously marked the runner who scored from second on Tulley’s bad throw as earned.
Vega would go only four innings in his shortest outing of the season, giving up three more runs thanks to a wild pitch and a controversial fair call on a two-run homer down the left field line off the bat of center fielder Cody Marvel that cleared the foul pole by at least ten feet. He finished with seven runs (five earned) on eight hits, four strikeouts, no walks and two wild pitches.
In the fourth the offense exploded. The Runners tallied five times, highlighted by a three-RBI, bases clearing double in the gap by center fielder Jake Ekman. The lineup recorded five hits in the inning and only stranded one runner, marking efficient offense in the frame.
They added two more in the fifth, thanks to Marcus Bean’s homer in his third straight game that cleared the high wall of Jim Darden Field over the 389 marker in the left-center gap. Cale O’Donnell scored on the play. They added two more in the sixth thanks to a sacrifice fly by Ekman and a Kennedy RBI double, bringing their score to 11 runs on the day.
The bullpen went to work earlier than they’ve had to before in Javi Vega’s double-header game one slot, as he went less than five innings for the first time this season. Jordan Smith took over in the fifth, retiring six straight hitters after allowing a solo home run to the first he faced.
Jared Roley came on for the save in the seventh, slamming the door shut with three strikeouts. However, he put Runners fans on the edge of their seats as he allowed a single and two walks, putting the tying run on base before an impressive four pitch strikeout to end the game.
Cleaner defense and stellar offense gave the Runners a final line of 11 runs on 12 hits with an error.
After tagging Vega for six runs in three innings, the Orediggers added only two runs in the last four off the MSU Denver tandem of Smith and Roley, ending with eight runs on 10 hits and an error.
Game Three (Mar 18) MSU Denver 3, School of Mines 10
Disproportionate pitching made the second game of the doubleheader a blowout.
While Jake Thurston hit a home run on the first pitch of the game, the offense struggled against Mines starter Tyler Blomster, who went six innings, striking out seven and allowing only three hits to earn the freshman his first career victory. He retired nine consecutive batters after the leadoff home run.
Michael Tanner threw a 1-2-3 seventh to end the game
It was a polar opposite story for Runners starter Hunter Hogoboom. He went only 2.1 innings before getting the hook, allowing six earned runs of seven total on eight hits. He was pulled after giving up a two-run home run to Derek Daly, who hit a solo home run in the second as well.
Dayne Rowley took over for Hogoboom, but did not fair much better. In his 2.2 innings of work, he allowed three runs (all earned) on five hits, with three walks to two strikeouts, throwing a laborious 60 pitches in a very short outing.
Aaron Gjersee threw a scoreless sixth, retiring three of the four Diggers he faced, with a walk and a strikeout.
The only other production came from yet another opposite-field home run from Cale O’Donnell that scored Jake Ekman, his seventh long ball of the season.
Cole Shetterly was the only other Roadrunner to record a hit, with a single in the fifth.
The Orediggers tagged MSU Denver pitching for 14 hits, including six extra base hits. They struck out only four times in six innings of offense. They finished with 10 runs on those 14 hits, and committed no errors.
The Roadrunners tallied three runs on three hits and committed one error.
Game Four (Mar 19) MSU Denver 11, School of Mines 15
An astounding 14 walks issued by MSU Denver pitchers, along with five wild pitches, gave Colorado School of Mines all the help they would need to take the series, despite a competitive showing from the offense.
For the second game in a row, Jake Thurston led off the game with a home run. Later in the inning, third baseman Trent Maloney worked a nine pitch at bat with the bases loaded, blasting the final one over the wall in straight away center for a grand slam. After the next hitter, second baseman Donny Ortiz, Jr. slapped a double to right, Mines starter Walter Pennington was chased with only .2 innings under his belt. Mines didn’t end the threat until a close play at the plate saw Ortiz, Jr. tagged out to end the inning.
The Diggers weren’t alone in pitching issues in the first, though. Runners starter Tony Yacovetta also did not escape the opening frame, as coach Jerrid Oates went to Derek Stimpson with only two outs in the inning. Yacovetta lacked control, walking five hitters and advancing runners on two separate wild pitches in his short outing. Both he and Stimpson walked in a run, as Mines scored four times with only one hit in the inning.
After a 1-2-3 top of the second, Stimpson walked the first two hitters in the bottom, advancing in the leadoff man on two wild pitches, and was promptly removed in favor of Cade Crader. They added three more runs on only one hit in the second, taking the lead 7-5.
Cale O’Donnell led off the third with his RMAC-leading eighth home run on the season. The Runners regained the lead on a two-RBI single from Ortiz, Jr.
In the bottom of the third, Crader loaded up the bases with the first three hitters, and Oates was forced to go to Josh Moore, his fourth pitcher in three innings. Moore proceeded to walk in a run on the first batter and allow four runs to score in the inning, making the score 8-11.
Moore was called upon for three total innings, in which he allowed two runs on four hits, issuing a comparitvely low one walk in his outing.
The Runners got one back in the fourth when Sean Kennedy was hit by a pitch and went station-station thanks to a walk and two passed balls and Moore held the Diggers scoreless in the bottom, the first time they hadn’t scored in an inning in the game.
Mines added a run in each of the fifth and sixth and did not score in the seventh, while MSU did not score again until the eighth, when Cale O’Donnell launched his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to right center, building his RMAC lead to nine home runs. However, Mines answered with two runs of their own in the inning, and a scoreless ninth concluded matters in this one.
After the dust settled, the Runners had scored 11 runs on 11 hits with an error. The Orediggers scored 15 runs on only 10 hits and also tallied one error.
Author: Richard Allen
Richard is a junior at MSU Denver majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Sports Media. He currently serves as the assistant sports editor for The Metropolitan. You can follow him on Twitter @RichenAllard.