CSU club baseball records third consecutive series sweep

Sergio Santistevan

Colorado State club baseball brought out the brooms this past weekend as the Rams swept the University of Northern Colorado in a three-game series held at City Park Field.

With the trio of wins, CSU earned its third-straight series sweep on the season and increased their winning streak to 12 games.

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“We’re getting hot at the right time,” said junior outfielder Brandon DeLay. “It’s getting late in the season…defense, offense and pitching are all working well.”

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Rams sent an early statement to the Bears by coming out with an 18-3 victory. UNC improved in the second game, but still ended up on the losing side by the score of 9-6.

“We kind of struggled in the second game,” head coach Troy Tolar said. “We didn’t have the same intensity that we normally do.”

In the third and final game of the series, CSU brought the intensity that Tolar wanted, and put the game out of reach immediately.

In the bottom of the first inning, DeLay started the hitting extravaganza with an RBI single and the 1-0 lead. A few moments later, Ryan Schones hit another RBI single to bring in Cole McKissock to jump out to an early 4-0 lead.

Throughout the inning, the Rams continued to swing the bat and bring in run after run. DeLay, during his second at bat of the inning, hit an RBI double and helped CSU take a commanding 9-0 lead. The bleeding ended for the Bears after 13 runs in the inning, but the game was already well out of reach.

“Hitting is contagious,” DeLay said. “When one person starts hitting, everyone else starts hitting.”

In the top of the third inning, CSU kept their starting pitcher, Jared Van Vark, on the mound, but UNC showed signs of life. The Bears scored three runs off a couple Rams’ errors to decrease the deficit to 10.

After the inning, CSU Head Coach Troy Tolar pulled most of his starters and relied on his younger players to close out the game.

“I thought they (young players) did well,” Tolar said. “They played hard and that’s what we asked them to do. It’s nice when you have guys that will come in and they continue to keep hitting the ball.”

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DeLay enjoyed seeing the young guys get some experience on the field and let starters rest, as well. He says it prepares them if they are ever called upon and for next season when they see more playing time.

After bringing in six more runs through the next two innings, the Rams had a 19-5 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Austin Trinidad, Cole McKissock and Ben Alexander each brought in runners for CSU to set the season high of 22 runs in game.

What was supposed to be a nine-inning game ended in the top of the seventh after closing pitcher, Brad Johnson, finished out the game with three outs and the 22-6 victory. According to the National Club Baseball Association, any team who has more than a 10-run lead after seven innings is declared the winner.  

Johnson, who has been on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, returned to the Rams’ lineup, and Van Vark is excited that his closer is back.

“He is a senior and a leader,” Van Vark said. “He’s a big part of setting the tone for our pitching staff.”

CSU (14-9, 11-1) with six games remaining is ranked No. 18 in NCBA Division I. The red-hot Rams will travel to Scottsbluff, Nebraska to face Western Nebraska Community College on April 22 in a doubleheader. WNCC will be one of toughest challenges for the Rams since their winning streak began.

“We know they’re going to be good,” DeLay said. “We need to see better competition like them to make us prepared for Boulder.”

After the quick trip to Nebraska, the Rams have a four-game series awaiting with the University of Colorado beginning on April 28 in Fort Collins. The winner of the series will be crowned the Mid-America West Conference Champion.

“Always playing for the league on the last weekend of the season is awesome,” Tolar said. “It makes for a good atmosphere.”

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