The entrepreneur in the Boulder Collegians' Nathaniel Brezner-Mendoza was on full display on Friday night at Scott Carpenter Park.
The young man who owns his own business was nothing but orderly and succinct in the team's fourth straight win, throwing seven strong innings of four-hit baseball in a 2-0 win over the Gameday Saints.
It was an encouraging outing for the University of Portland-bound righty, who is transferring from Clark College in Vancouver, Wash. Even more encouraging was the acceptance of running sprints out on the warning track with fellow pitcher Devan Elson — a sign that, yes, Brezner-Mendoza is here in Boulder to get better.
"I think we are here to get better, and it's fun and all to come out here and play every day, but in the end we are here to get better for our colleges," Brezner-Mendoza said after fashioning one of the tightest performances of the year for the team. "We want to come out in the fall and then in the spring and be better than we've ever been before."
New to the Rocky Mountain Baseball League, the Saints have struggled to get wins, but have competed well against the Collegians in four meetings. Friday was another example, with Nebraska-Kearney product Alex Achtermann not budging much from his 91 mph fastball and a solid recipe of breaking balls.
Brezner-Mendoza, however, was in a special zone on Friday. He had some help, especially from his outfielders as they ran down a couple of deep fly balls, but the Saints were guessing most of the evening. Brezner-Mendoza finished with seven strikeouts and only once did a runner reach third base on him.
"It's really nice to work on my spots and just make sure I can locate throughout the whole game," Brezner-Mendoza said. "I know that's part of what I need to do at the next level. My fastball and slider, just being able to locate those wherever I wanted was key, and then later in the game, throwing some curveballs and change-ups kept them guessing.
"This is good competition and, with the elevation, it makes it that much harder to pitch. Mistakes get punished that much more."
The Collegians squeezed out eight hits in the nine-inning league game, missing out on a couple of good opportunities to pad Brezner-Mendoza's performance.
But on this night, two runs was enough. Brady Michel scored the first run of the game in the fourth off an error, and the Collegians made it 2-0 in the fifth off yet another clutch hit from cleanup hitter Brett Bonar — a double that plated Bryce Bullock.
The Collegians have hopped back into fourth place in the RMBL standings at 11-7 and now will play most of their remaining regular season schedule away from SCP.
But Friday's effort added to what has been a pretty strong stretch.
"The fans that come to watch college baseball want to see what that next level is, and I think we showed it," coach Eddie Toledo said. "A great effort by both teams, really.
"In the past four or five days, I've watched our guys show up early, get in the cage hitting, our pitchers are running ... I think they understand this is what they have to do to achieve what they want at the next level."