Pack out at RMAC, awaits regional bid
DENVER, Colo. - CSU-Pueblo was unceremoniously swept out of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament Friday, losing to top-seeded Metro State and Mesa State.
The ThunderWolves lost 13-5 in five innings to Metro State, while the Pack was on the short end of an extra-inning affair in the late game, losing 7-6 in nine innings vs. Mesa State.
Despite finishing out of the money at the tournament, CSU-Pueblo still has a shot of living to play another day as they await word on the team's possible bid to the NCAA Division II Central Regional Tournament. An announcement will be made by Wednesday.
CSU-Pueblo, playing in the winners' bracket in the day's early game against tourney host, Metro State, the 11th-ranked team in the nation, was sitting in an enviable spot midway through the game.
After Roadrunners opened up 4-0 lead after two innings, CSU-Pueblo hung five runs on Metro State in the third inning. Ashley Aldrich (Sr., Sahuarita, Ariz.) struck a three-run double with the bases loaded to bring the Pack within one, and Kayla Dionese (Fr., Pueblo, Colo.) hit her second of three home runs at the tournament, this one a two-run shot, as the ThunderWolves surged to a 5-4 lead.
The Pack held the lead until the bottom of the fourth, when Metro State flexed its muscles. The Roadrunners connected on seven hits in the fourth, putting up seven runs and effectively burying the ThunderWolves, taking an 11-5 lead. Two more runs by Metro State in the fifth led to the eight-run rule being enacted as the Pack was bound for the losers' bracket.
In the day's late game vs. Mesa State, the ThunderWolves faced a Maverick team that had won 11 of its past 14 games. The game was a neck-and-neck battle after CSU-Pueblo undid an early 4-0 Mesa State on a three-run homer by Dionese, part of a four-run third as the Pack tied the game at four.
CSU-Pueblo surged to a 6-4 lead in the fourth inning on a two-run single by Aldrich, only to watch Mesa State tie it back up in the bottom of the fifth.
The game continued deadlocked into extra innings until the bottom of the ninth, when Mesa State singled in the game-winner to claim a walk-off win.
CSU-Pueblo, which entered the tournament ranked sixth in the region, needs to be one of the Central Region's top eight teams when seedings are announced next week. CSU-Pueblo was seeded ahead of Regis, which was 7th in the region entering the tournament had lost to the Pack on Thursday. The region's eighth seed coming into the week, Concordia St.-Paul, which CSU-Pueblo defeated in February, lost its first two games in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Tournament.