CSU baseball looking for home-field sweep over UNC

050113_baseball-ht-1 cBaseball is a game of three – three strikes, three bases, three outs and, oftentimes, a three-game series. Colorado State baseball has the three down; this weekend, they are focusing on the elusive four.

The Rams host the University of Northern Colorado Bears at City Park for a four-game series, spanning across Saturday and Sunday, and head coach Nick Childs won’t go home satisfied unless his Rams take all four games.

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With a strong bullpen and the help of new hitting coach Brian Dilley, that should be an achievable goal. Last weekend, the Rams took three of four from Williston State Junior College, including a 17-4 beatdown.

“Winning three out of four games is good, but we need to find a way to win all four,” Childs said. “Our offense has been very reliable, and we didn’t hit as well as we have been against Williston State, but we are starting to play very well.”

The Rams have batted-in double-digit runs in eight of their 24 games this season, compared with only 10 throughout the entire 2013 season. The marked improvement in batting is largely thanks to the extra work the players have invested in Dilley. Having them focus on using lower body strength in their swing, and using the top hand to generate batting power has reaped tangible results.

“Going by the stats that I have seen from previous years, I was able to work with those guys and get those back up to where they are now,” Dilley said. “I still think we have a lot of room to grow and a lot of improvements to make.”

But for Childs, the best part about this year’s team is the balance they have shown him this season. If the bats are struggling, the pitching rotation of Alex Marshall, Travis Childs and Tate Hughes step up their game.

In a February game against Northern Arizona University, the offense mustered just two runs, but the Rams won 2-1. And again last weekend, the Rams put up four runs, but allowed only one from Williston. The dependability is a two-way street, allowing Marshall to approach the mound knowing he has an army at his back.

Marshall is set to pitch the 12 p.m. game Sunday and he could not be more excited.

“We have a feeling we can put them away this weekend, and that’s what we are looking to do,” Marshall said. “We put in a lot more work and we believe a lot in ourselves; I can slack a little and I know I’m going to get picked up elsewhere – but I would never slack.”

This is the second time the two NoCo teams clash this spring. The Rams out-hit the Bears 9-7 in late February in a game pitched by the Childs’ younger brother, Travis. However, Nick is making sure his team does not take this series lightly.

The Bears have won four of their last five games, and as even the casual baseball fan knows – each inning is a different story.

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“Rivalry games are always closer, no matter what the difference in talent is, they always seem to be close,” Childs said. “I expect us to bounce back offensively and finally put four games together, I think we are playing well enough to do that.”

Collegian Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @c_rasta5.

A weekend of baseball at City Park:

Colorado State vs University of Northern Colorado

Saturday April 5: 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Sunday April 6: 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Cost: free