Rangers Capture First RMAC Championship; Earn First NCAA Tournament Berth Since 1991
Pueblo, Colo.: The Regis University baseball team had a chance to make history today as they took on CSU-Pueblo in the RMAC Championship Game. History in fact was made as Regis won their first RMAC Championship and earned an automatic berth to the 2012 NCAA Division II Tournament with a 9-2 victory at Rawlings Field.
Junior Kyle Mack (6-3) took the hill for Regis (32-21) and was opposed by Mike Fabrizio who threw nine innings against the Rangers on Friday night.
Mack got into trouble by walking the first three CSU-Pueblo (30-24) when Jovanny Valenzuela hit a fly ball to Steven Brault in right field. Andrew Castaneda tagged from third but Brault threw a seed to catcher Nano Jacobsen to deny the run. The next batter grounded out to end the first.
CSU-Pueblo again loaded the bases in the second but Mack got Castenada to fly out to centerfield. Chase Lacomb then struckout to end yet another threat.
The Rangers got their offense started in the third inning. Dave Holland doubled down the leftfield line and then was moved over to third when Cody Hastings put down a sacrifice bunt. Ryan Eustice singled to third base and Holland was able to score on a wild pitch with Nick Billinger at the plate.
Billinger then had an infield single advancing Eustice to third base. Alex Haag reached on a fielder's choice but was able to drive in Eustice. Haag was able to cross the plate on an error following a Steven Brault single.
Regis tacked on four more in the fifth inning on three hits and one CSUP error. Billinger drove a run in just before Piazza tripled to right center to drive in Haag and Billinger. Eustice scored on another wild pitch in the sixth inning and then in the seventh Holland drove in Brault on a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Mack went seven innings and allowed his only two runs in the seventh before being relieved by Alec Mielnicki who gave up just one hit and then gave way to Hunter Aronson who threw a perfect ninth inning to send the Ranger bench into a frenzy.
"This team has worked so hard and I am so proud of each and every one of them, said Head Coach Dan McDermott. "It is great ride and we are looking forward to competing at regionals."
Mack scattered seven hits and also walked seven while striking out four. Piazza collected three hits on the day while driving in two. Eustice, Billinger, Brault and Bob Terry each had two hits. Eustice crossed the plate three times and Haag twice.
The Rangers will see their first NCAA postseason action since 1991 and will wait till Sunday night to see where they will be heading. Regis enters the NCAA Tournament winning seven in a row and 12 of the last 13 games. The 32 wins are the second most in program history and the most since the 2004 team also had 32.