Hitting with power as well as precision, Colorado State-Pueblo's baseball team seemed to do its best impression of New Mexico Highlands on Saturday in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game.
On the other hand, the Cowboys were left trying to find themselves so maddeningly close to a title and the coveted shot at the national playoffs.
CSUP prevailed 15-1 to capture the tournament on its own Rawlings Field and join Mesa State as the RMAC's probable representatives in the NCAA Division II Central Regional.
Dustin Timmins was brilliant on the mound for the Thunderwolves. In seven innings of work, he held the Cowboys to five hits and one earned run, although he did walk six. Wes Oliver and Kevin McDonald each pitched an inning of no-hit ball to preserve the win.
Highlands third baseman Oscar Sigala was 2 of 4; the only other hits, one apiece, came from David Bustillos, Christian Garcia and Kyle Gutchewsky.
With bats in their hands, the Wolves looked a lot like their opponents did most of the season -- putting the ball in play and adding enough extra-base hits to generate runs galore.
Left fielder Jason Fobes was 4 of 5 with one run batted in and three runs for CSUP. Third baseman Matt Wismann went 3 for 3, drove in five runs and scored one of his own. First baseman Tony Pechek and catcher Ryan Wager both went 3 for 5. Shortstop Mark Sayas -- one of three Wolves with two hits -- added three RBI.
The Thunderwolves led 3-0 after one inning but really began to distance themselves from the Cowboys by scoring five runs, all with two outs in the book, in the bottom of the second.
Highlands' Christian Garcia singled David Bustillos home in the third to make it 8-1. But CSUP got the run back in its half of the third, then proceeded to score three in the fourth, one in the fifth, one in the sixth, one in the eighth.
While Timmins was shutting down the ordinarily prolific Cowboy offense, NMHU was trying to find an answer on the mound. Tyler Wichmann, Nathan Swanson, Kohoku Piho, Andy Herman, Richard Nicasio, Tyrell Curtis all struggled against the Wolves' hot lineup.
As was the case last season, the Cowboys enjoyed a strong season and a good tournament but fell just short, the title within striking distance. In 2008, they upset top seed and tourney host Mesa State at the end of a rain-soaked, extra-inning epic that extended after midnight. Drained of energy and all but out of pitchers, they lost to a hot Nebraska-Kearney club in the final the following day.