May 23, 2009

CARY, N.C. - Craig Lanzarotta's two-run homer in the fourth inning gave Mesa State its first lead of the game and Mike Provencher's three-run homer broke the game open as the nationally sixth-ranked Mavericks rallied from an early deficit for a 7-2 victory over No. 10 Belmont Abbey in the opening game of the 2009 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals Saturday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Mesa State held Belmont Abbey scoreless after the first inning as the Crusaders left 13 runners on base.

The win advances Mesa State to a winner's bracket game Monday at 5 p.m. Belmont Abbey plays Monday at 1 p.m. in the first elimination game of the tournament.

Belmont Abbey (38-25) loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the first as the Crusaders sandwiched a pair of walks around Justin Vasquez's double to left. Danny Brion's single to left brought in two runs and gave Belmont Abbey a 2-0 lead. After a force at second for the first out of the inning, another walk loaded the bases again. But Mesa State starting pitcher Brent Lamaster got out of trouble with a strikeout and a fielder's choice.

Mesa State (44-13) answered with a run in the bottom of the second as Andrew Martinez singled up the middle with one out and stole second one out later. Matt Bodenchuk singled through the left side to bring home Martinez.

Belmont Abbey starter Tyler Powell (7-3) retired the side in order in the second and overcame a two-out single in the third with a strikeout. But Mesa State would use the long ball to take the lead for good.

Grant Vickers drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the fourth and Craig Lanzarotta followed with a drive well beyond the left field fence to put the Mavericks on top 3-2. The home run was Lanzarotta's ninth of the season.

Lamaster (7-1) withstood two baserunners in the second and Josh Frazier's two-out triple in the third before retiring the side in order in the fourth and striking out two batters in the fifth. But a Belmont Abbey threat in the top of the sixth forced a pitching change. With two outs and runners on first and second, Mavericks reliever Garrett Carpenter ended the threat with a fly out to center.

Belmont Abbey threatened again in the top of the seventh as a hit batsman and Brion's single gave the Crusaders runners on first and second with nobody out. Carpenter helped himself out defensively, fielding a sacrifice attempt and throwing the lead runner out at third. A fly out and a strikeout left two runners stranded for the second straight inning.

A fielding error and a walk gave Mesa State runners on first and second with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh. A throwing error on Kevin Becker's sacrifice attempt extended the Mavericks' lead to 4-2. One out later, Provencher parked a 1-0 pitch over the left-center field fence for his 16th home run of the season, giving the Mavericks a five-run lead.

Carpenter retired the side after a leadoff error in the eighth and Aaron Guinn pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the win.

Mesa State faces the winner of Saturday's game between Emporia State and Grand Valley State. Belmont Abbey plays the Emporia State-Grand Valley State loser.

Both teams had eight hits apiece. Martinez and Lanzarotta each had two hits for Mesa State, while Brion, Frazier and Daniel Kassouf had two hits apiece for Belmont Abbey.

Both Mesa State and Belmont Abbey are making their first-ever appearances in the National Finals.