Apr 262004
 
Authors: Josh Pilkington

With the conference title on the line and in-state rival

Colorado making the trip north from Boulder, the CSU club baseball

team had one thing in mind: sweep.

“Just close out the season undefeated in our conference is our

goal,” said pitcher Matt Wingate prior to the three-game

series.

That goal did not elude the Rams as they beat the Buffaloes 6-4

and 8-3 in Saturday’s doubleheader and 0-0 in Sunday’s finale.

The sweep clinched the Rocky Mountain Conference title for the

Rams and an automatic berth in the National Collegiate Baseball

Association World Series in Bradelton, Fla., starting May 26.

The excitement started Saturday with Wingate on the mound for

CSU clinging to a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Wingate

had battled in and out of trouble throughout the game, but Colorado

did not capitalize on scoring opportunities until the fifth when a

two-run double propelled the Buffaloes to a 4-3 lead.

“We just had to stay in the ballgame and hope our batters

(would) come through; get some hits, get on base and get some

runs,” Wingate said of the Rams’ demeanor after losing the lead.

“We just (had) to get tough and stick with it.”

The Rams followed the plan outlined by their starting pitcher in

their half of the fifth, stringing together timely hits and walks

and setting the table for right fielder Dane Griffin. With runners

in scoring position and one out, Griffin set in with a 2-1 count

and then, “The pitcher made a mistake, threw the ball right down

the middle and I made him pay for it,” he said.

Griffin did indeed, lifting a three-run shot over the left-field

fence to give the Rams the 6-4 lead they would not relinquish.

“That’s what you have to do when you’re playing good teams like

this,” Griffin said.

The Rams used the momentum gained from that comeback victory in

Game 1 and put four runs on the board in the bottom of the first in

Game 2 to take a quick 4-0 lead.

“You definitely take the momentum from the first game, it’s key

to win that first game, put that under your belt and take it into

the next game,” Griffin said.

With hurler Andrew Abell on the mound throwing his mid-to-high

80s fastball, those four runs would be all the Rams would need as

they coasted to a the 8-3 victory.

“Tell you the truth I got a little tired, but the adrenaline

picked up and I kind of carried on that for the last inning,” said

Abell, who pitched all seven to record the complete-game

victory.

CSU’s Austin Tillack led the offensive attack in Game 2 with a

three-run, wind-aided home run to right and a RBI single. Damon

Myers chipped in with a pair of hits, including a two-run double in

the fifth.

The Rams now face some downtime before returning to play in

Florida the final week of May.

“We need to make sure we’re healthy,” said head coach Frank

Gonzalez. “We’re going to pick up some non-league games with some

local teams, anybody we can play … whatever we can do to get some

games in hopefully every week and maybe on a weekday

occasionally.”

As for now they plan to bask in the limelight of their

undefeated conference season.

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