Drew Bayard drives a ball to the outfield in the third inning (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
There may still be two weeks left in the regular season, but the Campesinos can already call themselves champions.
After going up 10-0 in the third inning, the Mavericks staged a wild comeback in the final seven frames. But it wasn’t enough as the Campesinos took home the 14-11 victory on Thursday, Aug. 12, officially clinching the inaugural Mavericks League regular season championship and the top seed in the postseason — which will take place Sept. 2-4.
“This has been a special season, and I am glad our guys are staying in the moment and enjoying every chance they get to come to the ballpark,” Campesinos manager Daniel Robertson said.
“This is a phenomenal group of guys to play with. We knew where we wanted to be at the end of the season. We knew it was going to take the work to get here and that’s what we did. I’ve never seen a group of guys that grind like us,” added Campesinos outfielder Joseph Nunn Jr.
Both teams went scoreless in the first frame, but in the bottom of the second, the Campesinos offense began to put their mark on this game.
Back-to-back hits by Trevor Morrison and Eric Whitfield gave the Campesinos two runners in scoring position. After an RBI-groundout by Sergio Rey, the Campesinos took advantage of a pair of Mavericks errors to put two more on the board. Moments later, another RBI-groundout, this time courtesy of Patrick Chung, put the Campesinos up 4-0.
In the bottom of the third, Nunn knocked a two-run double into the left-center field alley to extend the lead to 6-0.
“The key for me was to attack early, watch for balls in the dirt. I know he wasn’t coming with anything too overpowering, so I scooted up in the box a little and looked for something middle-away. Next pitch, that’s what I got and hit a double to left-center,” Nunn said.
Nick Ybarra followed with a two-run double of his own to make the score 8-0. After an RBI-hit by Chung, Mavericks manager Jon Embree took starter Garrett Alvarez out of the game — Alvarez lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up eight earned runs.
By the end of the frame, the Campesinos were up 10-0.
“They stayed focused on what they were trying to do at the plate. We were doing all the little things well,” Robertson said.
Despite being down by double-digits, the Mavericks refused to give in, scoring six runs in the next three innings to cut the lead to 13-6. After scoring one more in the seventh, the Mavericks struck for three runs in the eighth to get within four going into the final frame.
With one out in the top of the ninth, Mavericks shortstop Rodny Rodriguez hit an RBI-single to right field to trim the Campesinos lead to 14-11. With the tying run coming to the plate, Robertson turned to his trusted closer, Luke Laurita, to get the final two outs of the game.
The Campesinos lefty got Alex Emerson to ground into a fielder’s choice and then struck out Matt Holiday to end the game and earn his sixth save of the year.
“They closed in fast on us and had an opportunity to tie the game. But we wouldn’t let them. Laurita came in and did what he needed to do,” Robertson said.
Even though they have the top seed clinched for the playoffs, Robertson doesn’t want his squad to get complacent in the last eight games of the regular season.
“My goal is to get these guys to play the next eight games like it’s a win-or-go-home situation. Because that is what the playoffs are going to look like, and we want to be prepared,” Robertson said.