CARY, N.C.—The Mesa State Mavericks might be the top seed in the Division II World Series, but they found themselves at a distinct disadvantage Saturday afternoon at the USA Baseball Training Complex.
The problem? Mesa State is from lofty Grand Junction, Colo., where the thin air lets balls sail out of parks with regularity and the heat is dry. To compete in the World Series, they had to travel 1,910 miles to the humidity of North Carolina and the expansive ballpark at Cary.
The adjustment showed as Mesa State quickly fell behind to Belmont (N.C) Abbey 2-0. Mesa State starter Brent Lamaster complained of moisture on his fingers and struggled in the opening inning.
But it didn’t take long for the Mavericks to adjust, and the Cinderella bid from Belmont Abbey fizzled out with two home runs from Craig Lanzarotta and Mike Provencher, as Mesa State pulled out the 7-2 win.
Both Mesa State and Belmont Abbey provide interesting storylines through the tournament. Mesa State, the top overall seed, has a hulking shortstop in Matt Bodenchuk. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, and coming into the tournament he was batting .441 and slugging .856.
Belmont Abbey is the cinderella team for the tournament. The Crusaders won the Aiken (S.C.) Regional as the sixth seed, beating host South Carolina-Aiken twice. They made the tournament after winning five games in 48 hours in their conference tournament.