Without question the rivalry between any CSU and CU team is heated, but when the matchup between the schools is considered a must win for each side, fuel is added to the fire.
The CSU baseball team is hitting the road this weekend for a four game series with the Buffaloes, and both teams are treating the series as a key opportunity to improve their conference record.
The Rams (2-2) and Buffaloes (1-4) are trailing UNC in the Mid-America West Conference after each playing a series with the Bears, setting up a less than desirable position for the team that comes up on the short end of this weekend’s play.
“It makes this a crucial series as far as standings go,” CSU coach Nick Childs said. “If we can win the series, which is obviously our goal, than we can be first place in the conference and right where we need to be going into key matchups later in the season.”
Along with important conference games, bragging rights of an age old rivalry are on the line.
“I wouldn’t call it a hatred but we always love to beat them,” CU catcher David Brewster said. “That rivalry will always exist, no matter what the sport is. They’ve had much success, which we respect, but use as motivation going into these games.”
The Rams have been relying on the recent success of their bullpen to carry them to victories. Last week, the CSU starters posted an impressive 2.75 ERA at Jackson Field in Greeley.
The performances from the four starters have inspired the CSU sluggers, particularly leadoff hitter Greg Hart.
“There’s no doubt that our pitchers do everything they can to keep games within reach for us,” Hart said. “As the first to step up to the plate, I feel the importance to do what I can to get on base because I know I have some great guys behind me who can bring me home.”
The weekend series includes one game at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs on Saturday, the home field for the Colorado Rockies AAA affiliate Sky Sox.
“That game is always fun because it puts us up there on the big time. It gets loud in there and gives a chance for CSU alums in the southern part of Colorado to come out and support,” Childs said.
Now that the second-half of regular season games have begun, Both CU and CSU are paying close attention to the conference standings at the end of every weekend.
Both are playing catch up with UNC in sight, hoping to gain some ground before the regional series begins next month.
“This weekend is huge because we both saw what UNC did to us,” CU coach Tucker Hinchliffe said. “It’s almost unspoken but we both know whoever comes out on the losing end of this weekend is in an extremely difficult spot to recover from.”
Club Sports Beat Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.