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Cowboys finish with a flourish

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By Dave Kavanaugh

As the top seed in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference baseball tournament, New Mexico Highlands will open the postseason against sixth-seeded Regis at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Kearney, Neb.

The Cowboys, who’d clinched the top seed a week earlier, concluded the regular season Saturday at Metro State in Denver. The Roadrunners, incidentally, are the No. 4 seed in the RMAC and play No. 3 Mesa State at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the tourney’s opening game. Host Nebraska-Kearney is the No. 2 seed and tangles with No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo for a 7 p.m. nightcap.

On Friday at Metro, the Cowboys won 10-3 following another fine showing by ace Drew Vassil (12-1). Vassil scattered seven hits and three earned runs over eight and a third innings, striking out five.

Phillip Rodriguez (3 for 4, two runs, two runs batted in), David Bustillos (3 for 4, two runs) and Danny Brown (2 of 3, two runs, one RBI) had especially effective days at the plate. Rodriguez and Oscar Sigala each hit a home run, and Brad Morgan drove in three runs.

The Roadrunners (21-21, 18-12 RMAC) led 3-2 through five complete innings, but Highlands (35-10, 25-6) stole the lead on Rodriguez’s two-run blast in the top of the sixth.

On Saturday, NMHU won a 12-10 slugfest in extra innings before dropping the regular-season finale 11-3.

Jason Carr added to his league-leading home run total and hit 4 for 4 with three doubles. Morgan and Rodriguez also homered for Highlands. Sigala and Kyle Gutchewsky drove in one run apiece in the decisive 10th inning, helping Tyler Shaddy pick up the win in relief.

Game three was an atypically quiet one for the Cowboy offense. Robert Vasquez accounted for three of the team’s seven total hits. Brown gave up four runs on five hits in the first two innings.