May 12, 2011

Stephens, Pack shut down Metro State at RMAC Tournament

ThunderWolves claim all-important first-day win at double-elimination tournament.


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - May 12, 2011) - Facing Metro State for the 12th time this season, this time for the biggest meeting so far, CSU-Pueblo kept up its recent mastery of the Roadrunners, riding a stellar pitching performance by Cole Stephens (Sr., Amarillo, Tex.) and claiming its fourth win in five tries against Metro, winning 7-2 at the RMAC Tournament at Mesa State College.

Aside from a few blemishes - a pair of solo homers hit by the Roadrunners - Stephens was unflappable.  He pitched eight innings and hurled just 98 pitches, striking out five and luring Metro State batters into two double play balls.

"Cole was lights out," CSU-Pueblo head coach Stan Sanchez said.  "He was a little flat with his slider early on and struggled with the zone, but from the third inning on, he was calm and had great presence."

Stephens said his money pitch was his slider, which was victimizing Metro State hitters repeatedly during the game.

"The slider made all the difference in the world," Stephens said.  "I was using the sinker to set it up, and toward the end of the game, the slider was just hitting. I was able to hit the corner with it and got a couple of big double play balls out of it."

Offensively, the ThunderWolves battled, handing Metro State starter Bradshaw Perry his second straight loss to the Pack, fighting him to a 133-pitch, six inning outing. 

The biggest inning was the fourth inning, as a two-run single by Justin Cooper (Sr., Pullman, Wash.) got the wheels rolling.  Later in the inning, a throwing error by Perry gifted the Pack two more runs. 

In the eighth, Kyle Wager (Sr., Globe, Ariz.) helped put the game away for good, stroking a three-run home run over the left centerfield wall, giving the Pack a 7-1 lead that would hold up.

CSU-Pueblo's win in an RMAC Tournament opener marks the first time since 2006, when it finished as the RMAC runner-up, that it won in its first game.  When CSU-Pueblo won the RMAC Tournament championship in 2009, it did so after losing the opening game.

The Pack will next play at 7 p.m. Friday night against tournament host Mesa State.