The games that have everything riding upon them are the ones that make or break a person. On Friday night, the Colorado State baseball team will find out what kind of athletes make up their team.
The Rams host rival Wyoming for their last regular-season game, and final home stand, at City Park. After going 1-3 against UNC last weekend, the Rams need to win Friday night if they hope to move on to regionals. Last weekend in Greeley did not go as planned for CSU. Despite heading into the series fired up after sweeping CU, it won only the first game, deteriorated over the next three games and dropped the last one 10-0.
“It just seemed like, as a whole, our hearts weren’t in it, so I gave a speech about how this was my last year. Everyone has that moment when they feel like their baseball career is over — and that just all came out of me,” senior Greg Hart said. “I told them to play like it could be your last game. Play with heart, play with emotion and play for the guy next to you ultimately.”
Hart said his speech was not necessarily what they guys wanted to hear — “It wasn’t a very happy speech,” he said — but it was what they needed to hear. After winning the national championship three years in a row, the team has struggled to succeed since 2010.
This season has been one of their best, statistically and chemically speaking, and Hart isn’t the only one who does not want to see it end on a low note.
“It’s senior year, I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got. It’s a big game and coach trusts me with the rock,” senior pitcher Riley Hughes said. “Greg can be an intense guy, but this could be the last game I ever play — so what he says hits you deep. It’s what we needed.”
Hitting coach Brian Dilley was on board with Hart’s message, and he even went a little further to make sure the guys knew he meant business. After the abysmal weekend, Dilley typed up a contract that now hangs in the dugout, asking each player to pledge what he is going to bring to the team.
Dilley’s hope is that an entirely different team shows up Friday night — the kind of team that he had seen all season.
“That was the worst CSU team I have ever seen show up,” Dilley said. “The big thing we lacked was passion, so Friday I expect the entire team to come out full of passion and full of energy.”
Despite the losses, CSU is still second in the division, meaning they still have a chance of getting the regional bid if they lose the Border War. However, their chances are greater if they win, and none of the guys on the team wants to settle for a default bid.
“The team that showed up that day is not the team that represents CSU baseball,” Dilley said. “We have played with a lot of effort all season long — and we made it clear that last weekend was not acceptable.”
CSU does not plan on breaking under the pressure — so they only option left is to make the last game of the season worthwhile.
Collegian Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @c_rasta5.
CSU baseball’s final home game
Where: City Park
When: 6 p.m. Friday