By Dave Wagner
Eastern New Mexico University baseball coach Phil Clabaugh plans to use senior right-hander Trevor Davis whenever needed this season — whether as a starter or in relief.
After ENMU was blanked 9-0 by Colorado School of Mines in the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader at Greyhound Field, Davis assumed quick control of the nightcap — with a lot of help from his offense — as the Greyhounds (3-1) pounded out an 18-2 victory.
Davis went six innings, allowing five hits and striking out six with no walks. When designated hitter Micah Bernhardt was inserted on defense in the sixth, Davis took a spot in the batting order and delivered a single to right field in his first at-bat in a game since high school.
Senior right fielder Justin Gee drove in a career-high five runs with two singles and a double to lead a 17-hit attack while senior first baseman Mark Wallace went 3-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs, making him 5-for-6 for the twin bill.
“It was really nice to bounce back,” Davis said of the second-game win. “The runs were awesome. It’s a pain to come from behind, but once we get a few runs everyone gets pumped up.”
Davis (2-0) has been used as both a starter and reliever during his time at ENMU, and Clabaugh has made it clear he’ll use him in either role this year to try to pick up wins.
“When you’re closing you’re going in and giving it all you’ve got, and when you’re starting you kind of relax into it,” Davis said. “(Clabaugh) told me what to expect in the fall, so I’ve had a lot of time to get ready for it.”
The Hounds, who managed only five singles off Mines right-hander Kevin Barrett (1-1) in the opener, went to work quickly with three runs and four hits in the first inning of the nightcap.
Davis might’ve allowed no runs were it not for a fly ball not picked up off the bat by ENMU left fielder Gilbert Alvarado with two out in the fourth. The ball fell in for a run-scoring double for Orediggers catcher John Naccarato, and he then came home on a throwing error by third baseman Mike McDuffie.
The Hounds quickly responded with six runs in the bottom half, capped by catcher Tyler Brown’s three-run double. Gee hit a two-run double and Derrick Kennedy added a two-run homer in a five-run fifth.
“Everything we hit had eyes in the second game,” Clabaugh said. “You can’t beat anybody with five hits, but (Mines) played well (in the opener).”
Gee grounded into one double play and nearly hit into another in Game 1, but his luck soon changed.
“I was tense and wasn’t ready to play in the first game,” Gee said. “I saw the ball a lot better in the second game. I tried to keep my weight back (at the plate) and just relax.
“Everything just clicked. We just all played really well, and TD pitched a great game.”
Mines (4-2), trying to rebuild after a 9-44 season in 2004 that included an 0-28 mark in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, had its four-game winning streak snapped in Game 2.
CSM 10th-year coach Mike Mulvaney said the Orediggers were senior-laden in 2003, but because of budget cuts weren’t able to reload last year.
Still, he was pleased with the first-game win. Mines batted around in the two innings in which it did all its damage — a four-run fourth which started with four consecutive soft one-out singles off ENMU’s Kelly Crain (1-1) and a five-run seventh that included a two-run double by freshman second baseman Matt Owens and a two-run homer by freshman catcher Mike Deal.
“I think we lost 12 one-run games last year, and a lot of it is just the way the ball bounces,” Mulvaney said. “We didn’t hit them hard (in the fourth), but they found open places.”
That, he said, helped Barrett, a fifth-year senior who was shelled for seven runs — four earned — and 10 hits over just 3 2/3 innings in the Orediggers’ season-opening loss.
“When you can play a little loose, baseball is just a lot easier to play,” Mulvaney said.