PUEBLO, Colo. — Victor Soto (Jr., Whittier, Calif.) pitched seven innings of 3-hit, shutout ball while the top three hitters in the Pack lineup went a combined 7-for-12 to lead the Colorado State University-Pueblo ThunderWolves to a 6-0 victory over visiting Metro State University on Saturday afternoon at Rawlings Field.
The win, keyed by a 2-run first and a 3-run second inning, allowed the Pack to claim the first series sweep of the season while improving to 23-18 overall and to 19-11 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play. The Roadrunners, held to just three hits by Soto and relievers Dillon Given (Sr., Salinas, Calif.) and Kolby Rimer (Jr., St. George, Utah), fell to 10-25 overall and to 8-22 in the league.
Soto needed just 88 pitches to get through seven innings, striking out five Roadrunners in the process. He improved to 3-4 with the win in his second straight start.
Meanwhile, Metro State's Derek Stimpson, now 1-5, was touched for eight hits and four earned runs in five innings of work although he did settle in after a rough start.
However, the damage had already been done, as the quick start was all the Pack would need.
In the bottom of the first, a high-chopping infield single to third by lead-off man Mario Sanchez (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.) and a throwing error by the Roadrunners' Sean Reeves allowed Scott Hoyt (Sr., Longmont, Colo.) to extend his hitting streak to 16 consecutive games with an RBI single up the middle that scored Sanchez. The Pack then went up 2-0 on a double play later in the inning before a Sanchez RBI single and a Hoyt running-scoring double helped the Pack take a 5-0 lead through two innings.
Back-up catcher Derek Goodwin (Jr., Diamond Bar, Calif.), who replaced starter Eddie Williams (Sr., Castle Rock, Colo.), who was hit in the helmet by a pitch in the bottom of the second, then drove in the game's final run in the bottom of the third with an RBI double that plated second baseman Shane Richins (Jr., Heber, Utah).
Meanwhile, Soto had a no-hitter going into the fourth before two straight singles by Darryl Baca and Reeves gave the Roadrunners their only strong scoring opportunity of the afternoon. However, Soto got Gavin Purvis to roll into a 6-4-3 double play easing the pressure.
The ThunderWolves would also turn double plays in the sixth and seventh innings before Given pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Rimer then tallied two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 ninth as the Pack cruised to the win.
Veteran coach Stan Sanchez was able to play 22 players in the victory, the ThunderWolves' sixth in their last seven games.
His third baseman Mario Sanchez, went 3-for-5 with two runs to lead the attack while Dominick Bregar (So., Pueblo, Colo.) went 2-for-4 with a run while extending his reached safely streak to 31 consecutive games from the No. 2 spot. Bregar had his impressive 24-game hitting streak snapped by the Roadrunners in Thursday's 7-4 ThunderWolf win although the first baseman did draw a walk and laid down a sacrifice bunt in that game.
Hoyt and Richins also went 2-for-3 on Saturday as the ThunderWolves banged out 12 total hits, including three doubles.
The Pack are now 20-3 against the Roadrunners over the last three seasons and have won all 12 games at home during that time.
A solid 16-6 at home this season, the ThunderWolves will remain in their own beds next weekend for a critical series that will likely decide the RMAC's Plains Division title against New Mexico Highlands, currently 2 ½ games ahead of the ThunderWolves in the conference standings at 22-9 (25-16 overall).
The 4-game set will start Friday night (Apr. 25) when the Pack host their annual Pack the Park promotional night in an attempt to break the NCAA Division II single-game attendance record of 4,122. First pitch at Runyon Field in downtown Pueblo is slated for 7:05 p.m. and admission is free, thanks to the generous support of Art & Lorraine Gonzales.