CSU club baseball loses first home series of season to Nebraska

Sergio Santistevan

Colorado State club baseball failed to take advantage of a sunny weekend in a 2-1 series loss to the University of Nebraska at City Park Field in Fort Collins, Colo.

The series began Friday night with a dominating pitching performance from Nebraska’s Jake Minnick, who threw a complete game in the 3-2 victory.

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Players in the dugout watch their teammates on offense during the Wyoming games in the 2017 season. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

In the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Cornhuskers scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to beat the Rams 6-4. They were led by a complete game from Seth Carnes on the mound and two RBI singles from Cody Kashmark in the seventh inning. CSU pitcher Daniel Terao helped his team by excelling on the mound.  

“Daniel Terao, he threw a great game, lights out,” fellow pitcher Mark Singleton said.

As trash-talk intensified between the two teams, Trent Weldon started on the mound for the Rams in the third game and allowed zero runs through his three-inning appearance. With the Rams offense struggling, Walker hit a deep home run in the bottom of the third inning to take the 1-0 lead.

“It just connected, and I let it fly,” Walker said. “It felt good, it felt really good actually.”

However, the lead didn’t last long as Ben Kiolbasa hit an RBI double to tie the game up in the top of the fourth inning for Nebraska. The offensive struggles continued for the Rams throughout the fourth and fifth innings, which resulted in only one hit combined. Nebraska took advantage and scored a run in the fifth inning off an RBI double from Erik Haugerud to give Nebraska the 2-1 lead.

The turning point of the game for CSU occurred in the bottom of the sixth inning when Nebraska’s Brock Lorenzen’s pitching took a turn for the worse. Despite Nebraska’s four errors in the inning, the Rams were only mustered one run to tie the game.

The seventh inning started off with Nebraska’s Nick Aldrege scoring his second run off a Cody Kashmark RBI. CSU brought in their fourth pitcher of the game, Jay Chamberlain, to close out the inning with two quick outs.

Everything seemed to click for the Rams in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sophomore Parker Evans hit a single, advanced to second base off an error and was brought home by a Ryan Schones RBI single to tie the game 3-3.

With the bases loaded, Mark Singleton, hit a walk-off single up the middle to give the Rams the 4-3 win and avoid another early season series sweep.

“I just knew it,” Singleton said with a smile. “He threw a fastball right down the middle, and I put the bat out there.”

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Despite the walk-off win, the Rams are still disappointed with the outcome of the series.

“We wanted to come out and win all three games,” Walker said. “It was a good lesson for all of us that we aren’t going to get anything handed to us.”

Hitting was a problem this weekend and is something CSU hopes to improve on. Singleton wants better execution and timing from the batters and believes more practice outdoors will help.

Head Coach Troy Tolar knows that the little things kept the Rams from winning the series. Once the hitting and weather improve, he believes the ball will start falling his team’s way.

Walker looks at the series as a good experience. He says people are slowly coming into their roles, the team is discovering who they are and, unlike last year, the Rams aren’t relying on hitting to win games.

“I think we will look back on this series and think about a lot of crucial lessons we learned,” Walker said. “This foundation that we set this weekend is going to really push us forward for a more successful conference season.”

Tolar took many positives from the series as well. He is encouraged that his team came back and won the third game. They didn’t give up and kept fighting despite being down and losing the first two games.

“It would have been easy for them just to fold there but they didn’t,” Tolar said. “I think they did a really good job of that.”

The Rams will have to wait one week before any improvements can be shown on the field. Metro State University will visit Fort Collins for a doubleheader on March 10 at City Park Field. The Rams defeated the Roadrunners 8-6 on Feb. 27.

After that, the Rams will take a four-day trip to Arizona where they will play Phoenix College, Glendale Community College, Paradise Valley Community College and finish off with a doubleheader against Grand Canyon University.

The Rams are excited for the challenge of five games in four nights against tough opponents and hope it can jumpstart their season.

“We will definitely see pitching we’re not even going to see at nationals,” Singleton said. “That will be a true test to how we are as a team.”

Collegian sports reporter Sergio Santistevan can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TheRealsSergio.