CSU club baseball wins Border War series to begin tough conference schedule

Sergio Santistevan

Ask any player on the Colorado State club baseball team and they will say that their season began last weekend.

In a season that has resulted in many gut-wrenching losses, the Rams took the field last weekend hoping to start their conference season in winning fashion. The University of Wyoming visited City Park Field in Fort Collins for the annual Border War series. After losing the first of four games, CSU went on to win the series 3-1.

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Players celebrate
The Colorado State club baseball team celebrates a victory over Wyoming in 2017. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

The series began Saturday evening with a doubleheader. CSU had a chance to change the momentum of the game in the top of the sixth inning after a Luke Demolli RBI, which shrunk the Cowboys lead to two runs. However, the Cowboys’ outfield quickly responded by robbing CSU’s Jake Walker of a near home run.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, CSU pitcher Isaiah Johnson surrendered three runs to increase the Wyoming lead to 8-3. Despite a seventh-inning push, the Rams were unable to overcome the lead and fell by the score of 8-5.

“We didn’t come out strong in the first game,” junior pitcher Phelan Castellano said. “There were a couple of mental mistakes that we had that we could have avoided.”

In the second game, the Rams were a new team. Wyoming started pitcher Jaret Fullowski, who is also a member of the Wyoming football team as a defensive end, and CSU started Castellano on the mound.

After losing the first game, Castellano wanted to help motivate his team to move on and look ahead. Much like the “fortitude” tattoo on his arm, Castellano had the mindset to overcome the adversity of the first game.

Castellano allowed one run in the bottom of the first to give Wyoming an early 1-0 lead. However, the southpaw caught fire in the bottom of the second inning and turned the game and series around for the Rams.

“I just went out there with that fire in my stomach and that fire in my heart,” Castellano said.

In the third inning, Fullowksi struggled to gain control of his pitches. Jake Walker advanced to first base off an error, followed by a Brandon DeLay base hit. With the bases loaded following a walk and one out, Jared Van Vark hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Walker and tie the game at 1-1. First baseman Luke Demolli hit a single that brought in two runs a few minutes later to give the Rams a 3-1 lead.

The Rams added two runs to their lead in the fourth inning, due in large part to sloppy defense from Wyoming. Brandon DeLay and Austin Trinidad both hit singles off Fullowksi to reach first and second base. A wild pitch, an RBI single and an overthrow to second base on a steal attempt allowed the two runs to score.

Despite ceding a run the next inning, the Rams proceeded to put the game out of reach off Wyoming relief pitcher Augie De Ryk.

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After De Ryk walked the first two batters and allowed a base hit to load the bases, DeLay sent a ball up the middle for an RBI double and the 7-2 lead. Trinidad followed in DeLay’s path with an RBI double of his own and increased the score to 9-2. Brandon Severinsen continued the hitting extravaganza by bringing in Trinidad before scoring on sacrifice fly for the Rams 11th run of the game.

“To drop 11 runs … and the amount of hits that we did it just felt great,” Severinsen said. “It felt like the flood gates finally opened.”

Castellano checked out in the bottom of the sixth inning and Wyoming proceeded to score four more runs to reach the final score of 11-6. CSU pitching coach Chris McIntosh was satisfied with Castellano’s pitching performance.

“Phe (Castellano) threw great. He’s our bulldog,” McIntosh said. “We had a monkey on our back with the losing streak. Once we broke it open a little we got that monkey off our back and started playing loose.”

On Sunday, the Rams’ offense and pitching extended off their Saturday win. The Rams won the first game of the doubleheader 15-4 and game two 13-1.

“Hopefully we don’t look back from here,” Severinsen said. “Hopefully it just keeps us going.”

Castellano wants to assure the fans that despite the slow start to the season, this is not a rebuilding year.

“We’re sick of losing,” he said. “We’re still Colorado State baseball.”

CSU will look to continue momentum against Metro State University Tuesday night at City Park Field in Fort Collins at 7 p.m.

After that, the Rams have a three-game home series versus conference opponent Colorado Mesa University that begins on March 30.

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