|Posted April 22, 2008|
Pack scores huge upset, sweeps #9 Metro State
After the ThunderWolves' non-conference doubleheader with #9 Metro State Tuesday, it was hard to tell which team was nationally ranked and which one had struggled through the 2008 season.
The ThunderWolves scored an unlikely rally in the first game to steal a 7-6 win from the Roadrunners in the opener, then rode the wave to a huge 13-6 win in the nightcap.
The Pack's sweep of Metro likely upsets the Roadrunners' hopes at potentially hosting a regional tournament, which would have, ironically enough, been held at CSU-Pueblo. The Roadrunners lack the facilities to host a regional, and were looking at borrowing Rawlings Field if that turn of events did in fact occur.
"We don't want a regional in this park unless we're playing in it," Pack coach Stan Sanchez said. "It keeps them out of our house."
But more importantly than playing the role of giant-killers, the Pack raised themselves up in a much needed way.
It all started when the Pack trailed Metro 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning of the first game. The first five ThunderWolves to the plate reached base, with the big hit coming from Johnny Zepeda, who fired a pinch hit RBI single to bring the Pack within one. Jerry Salazar, who solidified his bid to be the Pack's starter at first base by going 4-for-6 over Tuesday's games, tied it up with another RBI single.
Then Mike Sanchez added the final blow, firing a hard single to the left side of the infield to score pinch-runner Aaron Lewis and seal an unlikely win.
"Putting together a rallly like that and win walking off is something we haven't been able to do all season long," Sanchez said. "More than anything, it's a confidence builder for us. We played with flow and it carried over [to the second game]."
In game two, after starter Scott Harshman was lit up for five runs to fall down 5-0 1-1/2 innings, the Pack bailed him out by putting up five in the bottom of the second inning. From there, Mario Mattivi came in to relieve and was absolutely stellar. Mattivi threw four brilliant innings of relief, allowing only one hit and striking out six.
In the meantime, the Pack bats stayed hot and took the lead, surging ahead for good with a six-run sixth inning.
Overall, it was the kind of performance Sanchez had been waiting for.
"We ran the bases well [stealing five bases in the second game], our execution was good and we beat a good pitcher [in Metro's game two starter, Josh Eckert]," Sanchez said. "It was a really great win and something we really needed."
The only downside for the Pack - Tuesday's wins won't count in the conference standings. The Pack are still only one game ahead of New Mexico Highlands, who actually take on Metro this weekend for a four-game set. The Pack will head to Colorado Mines looking to win the series and stay ahead of Highlands.
"We're confident that if we go into this weekend playing like we did tonight, we should do very well," Sanchez said.