Niwot ace Caleb Martinez struck out five and walked just two in a six-inning outing against cross-town rival Longmont (15-1) on April 28, but that wasn’t enough to overcome uneven defensive play and a lack of timely hitting. Failing to capitalize on the senior’s second consecutive complete game, the Cougars committed four errors and stranded six batters on their way to a 4-0 loss, their second against the league-leading Trojans in three days. Despite the losses, Niwot head coach Adam Strah said he is heartened by the continued improvement of his youthful squad.

“That’s a really good opponent out there,” Strah said after Saturday’s loss to Longmont, currently ranked No. 3 in CHSAA’s Class 4A weekly baseball poll. “Regardless of score, I think the upward trend is still there, just to be in a Northern League inning-by-inning battle. They’re playing tough, and that’s encouraging.”

Martinez put together another glowing but ultimately unsuccessful effort, allowing six hits and just one earned run against a foe that has outscored its league opponents 130-60 this season.

“I just pitched the way I normally do, trying to keep hitters off-balance and trying to get them to swing at stuff they can’t hit,” he said. “I felt pretty good.”

“It was one of those performances where he settled in more as time went on,” Strah said of the University of Sioux Falls-bound senior. “That pitch count stayed low enough for him to keep going, and it was encouraging to see him produce back-to-back like that.”

The Cougars fell behind early, after Martinez gave up a walk and a single to open the game, coupled with a throwing error that put Trojan runners on the corners with no outs. Martinez pitched his way out of that jam, allowing only one run, then retired eight of the next nine batters he faced.

Longmont added a pair of runs in the fourth thanks to two mishandled grounders, and its fourth run an inning later after yet another Niwot error.

“Our defense may have struggled a little bit, but I still love our guys and I still love the effort they have,” Martinez said, echoing Strah’s sentiments. “I feel like we absolutely had what it takes today, but certain things didn’t happen at the right time.”

Unfortunately, most of those things were hits with runners in scoring position, which was also a problem for the Cougars two days earlier in the series opener. Niwot managed 11 hits in that game, including three from Cameron Hassert and a pair from Joey DesEnfants, but scored only three runs. On Saturday, Niwot managed just three singles—from DesEnfants, Hassert, and senior Ben Goss—and had just seven baserunners total. The best scoring chances came in the third, after Colton Goldfarb’s base-on-balls loaded the bases for the heart of the order; and again in the seventh, when the Cougars had two on and just one out, but failed to sustain the rally.

“Getting those runs in when they’re on base is a challenge,” Strah admitted. “Those big hits are the ones we’re missing. If those happen, the games probably look a lot different.”

With the losses, Niwot fell to 4-13 on the year and 2-10 in the Northern League. Niwot wraps up the season with a home-and-home series against Silver Creek on May 3 & 5.

4/28 — Longmont 4, Niwot 0

Cougars (4-13, 2-10) 000 000 0 — 0 3 4

Trojans (15-1, 13-1) 100 210 0 — 4 6 0

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Will Smith 3-0-0-0, Cameron Hassert 3-0-1-0, Colton Goldfarb 2-0-0-0, Micah Sheats 2-0-0-0, Aidan Galloway 2-0-0-0, Joey Desenfants 2-0-1-0, Caleb Martinez 2-0-0-0, Felipe Castro 2-0-0-0, Ben Goss 3-0-1-0, Mason Kunkel 1-0-0-0,

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Caleb Martinez 6-6-4-1-2-5

4/26 — Longmont 7, Niwot 3

Trojans (14-1, 12-1) 013 000 3 — 7 9 2

Cougars (4-12, 2-9) 002 000 1 — 3 11 3

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Will Smith 3-0-2-0, Cameron Hassert 4-0-3-2, Colton Goldfarb 3-0-0-0, Micah Sheats 3-1-2-0, Aidan Galloway 3-2-2-1, Joey Desenfants 4-0-2-0, Taylor Goldfarb 1-0-0-0, Caleb Martinez 1-0-0-0, Felipe Castro 3-0-0-0, Ben Goss 3-0-0-0,

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Cameron Hassert 3-6-4-4-1-0, Micah Sheats 3-1-0-0-2-1, Joey DesEnfants 1-2-3-2-2-1