|Posted March 7, 2009|
Mental mistakes help deliver sweep for Pack.
CSU-Pueblo preyed upon mental mistakes by Nebraska-Kearney Saturday, making the Lopers pay for two huge mental errors as the Pack cruised to a doubleheader sweep, winning 4-2 and 14-8.
Before the calamity-filled second game, in which both teams combined to committ six errors, both teams were stuck in a low-scoring game, in which the victor would be the team that got the most big hits with runners in scoring position.
CSU-Pueblo held up its end of the bargain, cruising for a three-run third inning, keyed by a 2 RBI-double by Tony Pechek (Sr., Pueblo, Colo.) with runners on second and third, and Dan Ninomiya (Jr., Woodinville, Wash.) followed suit with an RBI single. The Pack ended up going a modest 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the first game.
In Kearney's half of the fourth inning, starter Dustin Timmins (Sr., Alamosa, Colo.) was starting to get dented, as the Lopers filled the bases with one out. But Timmins lured the Lopers into an innning-ending 4-6-3 double play, keeping the runners stranded and setting the tone for a largely flat offensive performance by the Lopers for the rest of the day.
After Timmins moved to a club-best 4-0 with the win, a rattled Loper team made two huge mistakes that the ThunderWolves exposed - in a huge way.
In the bottom of the second, a mental mistake by Loper leftfielder Luke Stamp, who threw a relay on a double by Zach Hoffman (Jr., Pueblo West, Colo.) to a non-existent third baseman, helped clear the way for two ThunderWolf runs, part of a three-run second that gave the Pack a 3-0 lead.
But the biggest boner of all came in the third inning. After a leadoff single by Pechek and an error by Loper shortstop Brandon Buchanan put the Pack's first two batters on, a curious play occurred that allowed Bryant Veiga (Jr., Hemet, Calif.) to reach base in the strangest of ways.
Veiga hit a grounder up the first base line, fielded by Kearney first baseman, Andrew Haake. Haake fielded the ball cleanly, forcing Veiga to step back slightly to avoid an oncoming tag. The Loper defenders were under the impression that Veiga was out, and did not make a throw to first nor tag him. When Veiga ran to first, he was ruled safe, much to chagrin of a befuddled Kearney infield.
What followed was one of the largest innings in recent memory, as the Pack sent 15 batters to the plate, scoring 11 runs in the third and effectively knocking the Lopers out of the game before it had barely started.
The ThunderWolves' sweep helped to undo the bad taste left by a 7-1 loss Friday, and leaves the Pack in position to claim the series win Sunday when the Pack hosts Nebraska-Kearney at 12 p.m. Sunday's game will also be Mike Massaro Day at Rawlings Field, when the ThunderWolves will pay tribute to the minor league star and CSU-Pueblo alum before he leaves for spring training in the Oakland Athletics organization. The first 100 fans through the door will receive a set of commemorative Mike Massaro trading cards and meet Massaro for an autograph session.