The cold weather that postponed the start of The Colorado School of Mines Baseball team’s season opener at West Texas A&M seemed to freeze CSM’s bats as well. Mines lost both games of Saturday’s double header 4-1 and 7-0 and split Sunday’s games 5-1 and 4-2.
Sophomore righty Matt Brown took the mound for the opener and threw six solid innings. In picking up the complete game, he allowed four runs, nine hits, and walked only one. Brown also fanned three, including two back to back swinging in the sixth inning. The 3-run bottom of the third ended up being the deciding factor though, as the West Texas Buffs laced together four singles and a stolen base to take the lead for good.
The extent of Mines’ offense came in the fifth inning. After back-to-back singles by sophomore Zach Bothwell and senior catcher Jordan Williams, Bothwell[a] advanced to second on William’s single, but was tagged out at third on Derek Skrdlant’s bunt attempt. Senior outfielder Bobby Egeberg, who had the other hit of the game in the third inning, then reached on a fielder’s choice. Williams advanced to third on the fielder’s choice and then scored on a wild pitch, scoring CSM’s lone run of the afternoon.
Both teams played errorless baseball for the 7-inning opener.
Mines didn’t have better luck with offense or pitching in the second game, which proved to be a 9-inning affair.
Freshman lefty Nick Vitulli made his first college appearance, throwing 4.2 innings. All seven runs for West A&M came while Vituilli was pitching, although only five runs were earned. Vitulli walked three and struck out two. The bullpen was solid after the fourth inning with junior Peter Herrin coming in the game during the to relieve Vitulli after West Texas scored five straight runs. Freshman righties Michael Tanner and Clark Martin were great out of the bullpen as well, and the bullpen combined for no hits and no walks in the remaining five innings.
The Orediggers failed to score any runs in the second game, although freshman Nate Olinger went 2 for 4, freshman shortstop Travis Ramos and senior Charlie Basil went 1 for 3, and Zach Bothwell extended his hitting streak to two games, going 1 for 3.
The 4-1 and 7-0 losses were an improvement to the 16-0 and 10-4 losses against West Texas A&M in last season’s opener, yet Mines would take 1 out of 4 just as in last season’s opening series.
Mines’ bats remained quiet for Sunday’s first game, resulting in the Buffs clinching the series victory. Although Mines hitters picked up six hits, they left 10 on base, resulting in the 5-1 final score. Nate Olinger led the offense, going 2 for 3 with a walk and sophomore designated hitter Shane Johnson held the only RBI of the game, driving in Bothwell in the fifth, and went 1 for 3 with a walk in the cleanup spot.
Christian Rooney put forth a stellar college debut, as the righty pitcher threw 4.2 innings of one-run baseball on three hits with one strikeout. Rooney ended up taking a no-decision, as closer Eric Shannon gave up four runs in the final 1.1 innings.
The Orediggers avoided the sweep in the last game, as the bullpen remained strong and the offense woke up just enough to give Mines a 4-2 victory.
During the top of the innings, the CSM offense was at work, raking up 12 hits, two of which were for extra bases. Travis Ramos, who had one of the doubles, drove in senior Kyle Wallace from first in the second inning. In the fourth, walks by Johnson and Wallace brought junior Evan Brown to the plate, and Brown laced a single to right field scoring Johnson. Brown also drove Charlie Basil in with a sacrifice bunt in the sixth. Johnson continued his successful Sunday and added another RBI on his double to right that sent Bothwell home. The RBI double in the seventh gave the bullpen a small cushion, one they ended up not needing.
West Texas was held to two runs behind sophomore righty Ben Gilman. Gilman struck out five batters and only walked one on the way to his first victory of the season. Senior righty Blake Dunham followed Gilman with two and a third innings of shutout, one-hit ball, and Olinger put down the bat for the inning, picked up a ball, and promptly shut the Buffs down the final two-thirds of the seventh inning.