A warm afternoon turned into a brisk night at Suplizio Field, but if JR McDermott was any indication, the weather played no part in Colorado Mesa University’s seventh straight win Friday night.
Behind McDermott’s eight shutout frames, the No. 5 Mavericks defeated No. 9 Colorado School of Mines 7-1 in the first of a four-game series and moved to 5-0 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play (17-2 overall).
McDermott’s shortened junior season seems like a distant memory with his pitching of late. The senior struck out 12 Orediggers on the night, a season-high, and allowed six hits and a walk in eight innings of work. The righty moved to 4-0 and his earned run average sits at a microscopic 1.10.
The scoring began early for CMU. Caleb Farmer lifted a two-run shot off Mines starter Tyler Blomster in the bottom of the first to give CMU a 2-0 advantage. Hunter Douglas reached on an error by the shortstop Derek Daly, and Farmer made Mines pay immediately. The home run was the shortstop’s first on the season.
Blomster didn’t fare well against the strong Maverick lineup. He gave up nine hits, five runs (four earned) and struck out seven with one walk. CMU has reached double-digits hits in every game of their current winning streak.
McDermott made the Orediggers look silly as the righty recorded seven strikeouts through the first four frames. The Smoky Hill native’s mix of offspeed and high velocity has been a big reason why the senior is back to his former All-American ways.
McDermott was so good to start that Mines didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning when Mikey Gangwish roped a single through the right side. Joe Popp and John Howard followed Gangwish with consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs.
McDermott, however, wasn’t fazed. The senior struck out Phil VanZale and Gabe Garvens and later escaped the inning unscathed once Daniel Ciraula grounded out to third.
The Mavericks added to their lead in the fifth. Jordan Stubbings laced an RBI double to left center after Farmer’s leadoff single. Stubbings has yet hit a home run this season but came into the game leading the team with a .393 batting average.
Dominic DeMarco poked an RBI double of his own under the glove of Garvens down the left field line that brought in Stubbings. DeMarco has been a steady bat for CMU through the team’s first 19 games.
Mesa’s infielders had trouble finding the ball in the top of the seventh. Chase Hamilton had trouble on consecutive pop-ups as his arms flailed in the air as he searched for help from his teammates. The miscues placed runners on third and second for the Orediggers but one batter later, McDermott registered his second strikeout of Garvens and his 10th of the night to end the inning.
An interesting moment occurred in the top of the 8th. Pinch hitter Danny McDermott came in for his first at-bat of the season, and even though it was his first assignment of the season for the freshman, he was familiar with the pitcher on the mound: his older brother, JR.
Both dugouts were rowdy as they witnessed a brother on brother matchup, but the younger McDermott didn’t fare well in his first appearance as he struck out on four pitches against his older brother. Perhaps some bragging rights are in store in the McDermott family, but it was a cool moment for all involved.
Douglas added two more runs with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to stretch CMU’s lead to 7-0.
Daly hit a solo home run in the ninth off Ryan Overboe to avoid the shutout.