The ThunderWolves baseball team started a four-game series against Colorado Mesa Friday, March 9, at Runyon Field. With a 6-7 record the Pack needed to have a strong weekend against their conference opponents. It didn’t happen.
The ThunderWolves lost three out of the four games, the one win coming on Sunday. The Pack fell to 7-10 for the season and 4-4 in the conference.
The disappointment began Friday with a heart breaking loss in the 9th inning. After being down by three for most of the early innings, the Pack fought back scoring two runs on a hit by centerfielder J.T Greenhood, senior.
After the 6th inning the pitching duel continued between the Maverick’s Nolan Snell and the ThunderWolves’ Mike Fabrizio. Both pitchers performed extremely well, allowing few base runners throughout the game. The battle ended at the top of the 9th when Mesa scored two runs on three hits and a timely error by the right fielder.
The ThunderWolves were unable to answer in the bottom of the 9th handing the first game to Mesa. Fabrizio’s record became 2-2 for the year. Snell recorded 11 strikeouts and improved his record 4-0.
Saturday’s double-header only added to the Packs’ problems as the Mesa Mavericks won both games in a close fashion. The first game was a 7th inning battle that resulted in the ThunderWolves coming up one run short and lost the game 4-3.
The second game was yet another tight matchup lasting till the 9th. In the top of the inning a lead-off walk and infield error would put Maverick players on third and second bases with two outs. The next batter, Mesa’s Jeff Popick, would then single up the middle scoring the two unearned runs that resulted in another Maverick victory.
Sunday was the last chance for the Pack to avoid a sweep. It was a hard-fought game with momentum switching sides inning by inning. The Mavericks jumped out to any early 1-0 lead in the top of the 3rd, only to be erased as the Pack answered with three of their own runs in the bottom of the inning.
Mesa fought back scoring runs in the 4th and 5th innings to tie the game going into the 6th. The Pack again took control of the game as they scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning to regain the lead. Mesa responded by tying the game up with a run in the 8th.
The two teams would head into the 9th and final inning with Mesa behind by one run. In the top of the 9th the first batter Colton Little reached on a crucial error by ThunderWolves shortstop Michael Knueppel. With the tying run on first, the Mavericks put in Jake Kluge, a pitch runner for Little.
Kluge would eventually steal second and score on a double by Tamatoa Demello, allowing Mesa to tie the game heading into the bottom of the 9th.
With the score all knotted up, down to their last three outs and facing a possible sweep, another loss seemed to be inevitable for the Pack. Andrew Castaneda stepped into the batter’s box for his first at bat of the day. A lead-off double down the right field line gave the ThunderWolves new life.
After a line out by Evans, two consecutive walks to Chase Lacomb and Greenhold would load the bases for the Pack. After Jovany Valenzuel struck out the ThunderWolves were down to their third and final out. At the bottom of the 9th, with the bases loaded, two outs and a tie ball game, junior Curtis Cowell steps up to the plate.
This was a situation every player dreams of. The hero or the goat, Cowell’s at bat seems to be scripted by Hollywood. Cowell seizes the opportunity by drilling a single up the middle, scoring the game-winning run with his walk-off heroics. Cowell’s single allowed the Pack to get a game back from the Mavericks.