A month removed from their last game, the Colorado State University club baseball team jumped back into action with four non-conference games over the weekend.
First on the docket was a Saturday doubleheader against Air Force’s division-two club team at City Park Field. This is Air Force’s first year fielding a team at the club level and the unfamiliar opponent provided an opportunity for CSU to see what they had up and down the lineup.
“We’re just giving guys an opportunity to see what they can do in a game and maybe earn a playing spot,” CSU head coach Troy Tolar said. “We’re just trying to figure out who’s going where and what everyone’s role is going to be.”
Despite not playing for a month the Rams did not miss a beat as they broke out of the gates on Saturday swinging. Thanks to good base running and timely hitting, CSU put up four runs in the first inning and followed it up with two more in the second for an early 6-0 lead.
The Rams added one more run in the bottom of the sixth but, with the way their defense and pitching performed, the lead was never in danger. The Rams turned a couple crisp double plays in the infield and kept the Falcons from crossing home for a 7-0 shutout in the home opener.
“You know, making sure our defense is lights out is something we harp on a lot,” catcher Jake Walker said after the games on Saturday.
The Rams did not get out to a great start in Saturday’s second game and found themselves behind 2-0 in the third inning. The deficit was short-lived though as CSU quickly regained their offensive power by putting up four runs in the fourth, followed by eight more in the fifth.
Once the score reached 12-2 the game was called off in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.
CSU showed off their offensive ability on Saturday, but the real stars were on the pitching staff that only allowed two runs in two games.
“Compared to the last couple years I’ve been here, this pitching staff is definitely the best I have seen,” Walker said. “We’ve got guys that hit spots with pretty good velocity that are just up there being competitors.”
The Rams felt good after the games on Saturday, but they knew they would have a tougher matchup heading into Sunday’s games against Western Nebraska Community College. Because of bad weather in Nebraska, Sunday’s doubleheader was relocated to City Park Field.
The first game on Sunday opened with a spectacular diving catch by CSU leftfielder Brandon Severinsen to end the top of the first inning. Unfortunately for the Rams, that was about the extent of their great defensive play as they committed a total of seven errors in game one, according to Tolar.
WNCC took advantage of the Rams’ mishaps and defeated CSU 7-3 in game one.
In game two against WNCC it was the Rams who took advantage of sloppy play in the field as they hit through the batting order and put up six runs in the first inning. Thanks to a strong offensive performance and a much-improved defensive effort, CSU never let WNCC back into the game.
Second baseman Matt Davis led the way for the Rams offensively with two hits and four runs batted in. Plus if it were not for an insane catch in centerfield with runners on base, he would have even added a few more.
“He’s been hitting the ball really well,” Tolar said after the games on Sunday. “Davis is a huge part of our team and we want him to just keep hitting.”
Davis was a difference maker in the second game for the Rams and the key for him was keeping it simple.
“I’m keeping a clear head,” Davis said after the games on Sunday. “I’m not going up there worrying about too much, just looking for your pitch, reacting and hitting the ball as hard as I can.”
Davis was the star for the Rams in the second game, but good pitching and solid defense also helped seal CSU’s 10-2 victory over WNCC.
In their return to action CSU finished the weekend with a 3-1 record. Fortunately for the Rams there will not be another long wait before they can take the field again as their next game is this Tuesday night against Metro State at City Park Field.
Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @christianhcsu