Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Pitching woes continue as Niwot drops two to Northridge


March 22, 2017

The Niwot Cougars are still looking for their first win of the season, after going 0-2 against Northridge in a home-and-home series last weekend. Northridge outscored the Cougars 18-9 over the two games, as Niwot’s pitchers once again struggled, giving up a total of 19 hits, including three triples and a home run.

For head coach Craig McBride, starting the year with four straight conference losses is definitely a setback, but not entirely surprising, given the caliber of competition throughout the Northern League.

“It definitely makes the rest of the season tougher,” he said after Saturday’s road loss. “Every win is crucial because there are so many good teams. That’s just how it is in our league.”

In the series opener last Thursday at Niwot, the Northridge Grizzlies certainly made a strong case for being one of those “good teams,” even if they did get off to a slow start. Niwot held the Grizzlies to just one run through the first four innings, behind a solid start from senior Hunter Stephens.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, the Northridge offense finally shook off its early season lethargy in the fifth. Stephens surrendered three runs in that inning, then another in the sixth. Senior Griffin Mitchell fared no better in relief, giving up another four earned runs on three hits.

Meanwhile, Niwot turned in a lackluster offensive performance, scoring just one run on three hits. Seniors Skye Messinger, Trevor Green and Zach Kinnison all singled for the Cougars, but Northridge junior Chance Eben demonstrated why he is one of Class 4A’s top-ranked pitchers, striking out eight, while allowing just two walks in the complete game effort.w

“Thursday was brutal,” McBride said of the blowout loss. “We made a whole slew of mistakes on that day, mental and physical.”

Although it was a different story for the Cougars at Darryl Kile Field in Greeley on Saturday, a happy ending still proved elusive. Despite a solid offensive effort, including a three-run homerun by Stephens, inconsistent pitching once again proved the Cougars’ undoing. Starter Jordy Wills was tagged with seven runs in three innings of work, while senior Trevor Green was on the hook for two runs in relief, including the game winner.

Offense kept the Cougars close at the end of the game, however. Stephens had two hits and three RBI on the day, while Wills, Green and Kinnison each had a hit apiece. Messinger led the Cougars with three hits, including a lead-off triple in the top of the seventh that touched off a three-run Niwot rally, tying the game at 8-8 going into the final frame. The Grizzlies snatched a 9-8 walk-off win after a walk and passed ball put a runner in scoring position for Northridge senior Justin Frye, who singled to left.

Despite coming up just short, McBride said he was happy with his team’s performance in the game.

“I was proud of them today for the tenacity that they showed,” he said. “They came back, and our offense and defense were both pretty good.”

Of the series as a whole, McBride said that it’s clear where the Cougars still have room for improvement.

“The story continues to be pitching,” he said of the high-scoring games. “That’s where we’ve got to get better.”

At the same time, McBride said he doesn’t necessarily think a winless record at this point in the season means doom and gloom for his team going forward, since their opponents have been top- ranked teams.

“The two teams we lost to [Silver Creek and Northridge] are probably going to be at the top of the league when all is said and done,” he said. “They both have D-1 pitchers that threw well against us.”

Up next for the Cougars is a scrimmage against Skyline at Coors Field, on Tuesday, Mar. 21, and then a two-game series against Greeley Central Mar. 25 and 27.

3/16 — Northridge 9, Niwot 1

Grizzlies (1-0) 001 035 0 — 9 7 2

Cougars (0-3) 000 100 0 — 1 3 3

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 3-0-1-0, Trevor Green 3-0-1-0, Colton Goldfarb 3-0-0-0, Hunter Stephens 3-0-0-0, Zach Kinnison 2-0-1-0, Joey DesEnfants 3-0-0-0, Jordy Wills 2-0-0-0, Fox Garza 2-0-0-0, Joey Neve 2-1-0-0

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Stephens 5-4-5-3-3-3, Mitchell 1-3-4-4-1-0, Kinnison 1-0-0-0-0-0

3/18 — Northridge 9, Niwot 8

Cougars (0-4) 410 002 3 — 8 9 1

Grizzlies (2-0) 301 400 1 — 9 12 7

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 4-2-3-2, Trevor Green 3-1-1-1, Colton Goldfarb 4-0-1-0, Hunter Stephens 3-1-2-3, Zach Kinnison 3-1-1-1, Joey DesEnfants 4-0-0-0, Jordy Wills 4-1-1-1, Cameron Hassert, 1-0-0-0, Griffin Mitchell, 2-0-0-0, Joey Neve 1-1-0-0, Chandler Snead, 0-0-1-0

2B — Kinnison 3B — Messinger. SB — Kinnison

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Wills 3-8-7-5-2-0, Green 3-3-2-2-3-2, DesEnfants 0-1-0-0-0-0


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