Facing an RMAC preseason pitcher of the year is never easy and the Colorado State University-Pueblo baseball team learned that Friday afternoon after facing New Mexico Highlands pitcher Drew Vassil.
Vassil pitched a complete game, striking out nine, and allowing only three runs as the Cowboys rolled to a 7-3 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
“We lost to the best pitcher in the RMAC, he pitched extremely well,” said coach Stan Sanchez.
Junior Joaquin Montano got the start for the ThunderWolves in game one, allowing three runs on five hits in three-plus innings of work. Montano struggled to find the zone, walking six of the 19 batters he faced while also allowing a leadoff home run to center fielder Christian Garcia.
In game two the Pack and the Cowboys offenses traded rallies. New Mexico Highlands jumped out to a 3-0 lead going into the bottom half of the third. With one out and a man on first shortstop Mark Sayas tripled down the right field line bringing home a run and putting pressure on starting pitcher Derek Grieve.
With the momentum still in the hands of the Cowboys, the runner on third, Sayas, not only stole the momentum but home plate in a rare feat. Sayas was beat to the plate by Grieve but managed to slip under the tag of catcher, Philip Rodriguez to put the game at 3-2. The ThunderWolves would manage one more run in the inning on an RBI single by Zach Hoffman.
“The pitcher was just long to the plate and I’ve always wanted to steal home,” Sayas said. “I saw the opportunity and did it.”
A huge fifth inning saw the Pack score five runs on five hits led by an RBI double by Sayas, and an RBI triple by Hoffman. Sayas finished the day 2-4 with two runs and an RBI while Hoffman went 2-4 with one run and two RBIs.
The Pack got a strong performance from preseason all-conference pitcher Dillon Meaney (1-1) who avenged his first two starts of the season, which resulted in a no decision and a loss, with a win. Meaney went five-plus innings allowing 11 hits and seven runs.
With the Cowboys threatening in the sixth, 8-7, with the bases loaded and one out, relief pitcher Nate Perlitsch came on to face cleanup hitter Danny Brown. Perlitsch was able to strikeout Brown.
From there reliever Zach Richmond was able to get the final out of the sixth on a fly out from shortstop Kyle Gutchewsky. Richmond would also pitch the final inning allowing, only one hit for the save.
“Perlitsch did a good job getting their left handed hitter out, and Richmond did a good job closing it up,” said coach Sanchez. “We got a big five runs, and we needed all of those five.”