The Roadrunners baseball team concluded their non- conference tune-up today with a double header against University of Sioux Falls before a long string of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference competition.
After taking two of three from the USF, MSU Denver heads into a stretch of 24 consecutive in-conference games, beginning with a four-game weekend set at CSU-Pueblo beginning March 3. Only two of their remaining 40 games are out of conference.
Head Coach Jerrid Oates believes his team is capable of contention.
“We expect to make a run at the championship,” Oates said. He noted that the team still can improve their pitching and defense, looking specifically at walks and errors.
To this point, the Runners are 4-6, weighed down by a three-game sweep at the hands of perennial juggernaut Emporia State University in which they were outscored 35-11. Their offense has carried them thus far. As a team, they are hitting .300 while their pitching has struggled to an early ERA of 6.72, and as team have committed 19 errors.
Leading the way for the Roadrunners has been Cale O’Donnell, who has a .405 average. He’s driven in 10 runs and reached base in more than half of his plate appearances. Javi Vega has been the most effective starter to this point, posting an ERA of 5 in three starts, while Tony Yacovetta has started strong in the bullpen, giving up a sole earned run in his first 5 innings.
Senior shortstop Jake Thurston understands there is still work to do.
“We’re just focused,” he said, “We know we have a good conference to play against, so we’re going to have a lot of challenges against every team we play.”
In the RMAC preseason coaches’ poll, MSU Denver was picked to finish fourth out of nine RMAC teams, trailing Colorado Mesa University, Colorado State University Pueblo and Colorado School of Mines. When they visit Pueblo next weekend, they will face a team coming off a four-game split with Lubbock Christian University, losing the final game in 7 innings via 10 run mercy rule. Overall, they are 6-8 with a team batting average of .294 and an ERA of 6.15. Following that series, they return home for four games against New Mexico Highlands starting March 10.