February 19, 2010

Sayas' steal of home lifts T-Wolves

Game 1: No. 29 New Mexico Highlands 7, CSU-Pueblo 3
Game 2: CSU-Pueblo 8, No. 29 New Mexico Highlands 7

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning during the back end of a non-conference doubleheader Friday vs. undefeated and 29th-ranked New Mexico Highlands, the Pack was aching for a momentum-turning play.

Mark Sayas (Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.) provided it. 

With one out and one runner, Sayas, on third base, the Pack needed a big inning to upend a hot New Mexico Highlands team which hadn't lost during 2010.  In one of the gutsiest calls possible on a baseball diamond, Sayas saw that the pitch by the Cowboys' Derek Grieve had beat him to the plate, and slid under the tag of catcher of Phil Rodriguez to complete the rare swipe of home, bringing the Pack to within one, 3-2, and handing momentum squarely to the ThunderWolves.

The Pack added another run in that third inning, and behind a resurgent performance on the mound by Dillon Meaney (Sr., Westminster, Colo.), the squad's expected ace this season who struggled in his first two starts, CSU-Pueblo was able to hold the Highlands bats at bay and ride a five-run fifth inning to victory.

The Pack's win resulted in the first loss on the season for New Mexico Highlands, the odds on favorite to win the RMAC this season, who entered Friday leading the RMAC in conceivably every statistical category, including a bawdy 19-plus-runs-per game average. 

But CSU-Pueblo's win didn't come without drama.  Highlands responded with four runs in the sixth inning, threating Meaney's win when it put runners on second and third with one out while trailing by just one run. 

Nate Perlitsh (Sr., Thousand Oaks, Calif.), emerging as the Pack's workhorse out of the bullpen this season, came into the precarious situation and calmly mowed down clean-up hitter Danny Brown on three straight pitches.  He then yielded the game to Zack Richmond (Jr., Chino Hills, Calif.), who got a popout from the next hitter, and held up in the 7th inning, pitching 1-1/3 innings, allowing one hit and securing his first save of the season.

The Pack's impressive win came on the heels of a tough loss to the Preseason RMAC Pitcher of the Year in New Mexico Highlands' Drew Vassil, who pitched a complete game seven-hitter in the 7-3 Cowboy win. 

CSU-Pueblo will finish its four-game series with the Cowboys Saturday in another seven-inning doubleheader.