Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Baseball: Cougars pick up first win of the season against Greeley Central

 

March 29, 2017

Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot’s Jake Sims returned to action after sitting out with a hamstring injury.

The Niwot Cougar baseball team snapped its four-game losing streak with a sweep of the Greeley Central Wildcats in a two-game home-and-home series last weekend. Freshman Cameron Hassert laid down a bases-loaded bunt in the bottom of the seventh inning to snatch a walk-off victory in the series opener at Niwot, and two days later the Cougar offense pounded the Wildcats for 11 hits in a 16-3 rout at Greeley.

After going 0-4 to start the season, Niwot Head Coach Craig McBride was relieved to finally get his team into the win column.

“I’m really happy with them,” he said afte Saturday’s win. “That game the other day was a close one, and they battled. Today they kept putting the pressure on.

“It was really good to finally get to get over the hump,” he continued. “We played those early, close games and came out on the wrong end, and they really put it together this week.”

The Cougars certainly showed improvement on both sides of the plate throughout the series. In Thursday’s game, senior Hunter Stephens, making his second start of the year, gave up just three runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out six batters and allowing just three walks over five innings. On offense, senior shortstop Skye Messinger led the Cougars with three hits, including his first home run of the season, and had two RBI. He also drew a walk to load the bases ahead of Hassert in the bottom of the seventh. Sophomore Joey DesEnfants, along with seniors Joey Neve and Zach Kinnison, who scored the walk-off run, also had hits in the last frame.

On Saturday, the Cougar bats really got going. After a scoreless first inning, junior Colton Goldfarb led off the Niwot half of the second inning with a double, his second of three in the series, then scored when senior outfielder Trevor Green collected the first of his three hits on the day. Green scored later that inning when DesEnfants reached first on a bobbled grounder.

Niwot added at least one run in each inning for the rest of the game, including four in both the third and the seventh. Messinger, who walked four times in his six plate appearances, tallied another two RBI when he doubled in the sixth. Kinnison extended his hitting streak to four games , with two hits on the day, while senior Jake Sims, back with the team after nursing a sore hamstring, had a hit and an RBI in the four-run seventh. Senior Fox Garza, in for Neve at first base, picked up his first hit and RBI of the year with a single in the sixth that scored Kinnison.

McBride was pleased that the Cougars were able to capitalize on so many scoring opportunities, even if many of them were courtesy of a sieve-like Greeley Central defense. The Wildcats committed six errors on the day, leading to five unearned runs, including the four in the seventh. Greeley Central pitchers also issued 13 walks, and threw five wild pitches.

“That’s what happens when you keep the pressure on,” McBride said of his opponents’ late game missteps. “Teams start pressing when they get down like that. We teach the kids to keep putting pressure on in that situation.”

“Our hitting was much better today, he said. “We took advantage of everything they gave us, which is what good teams do.”

McBride also had praise for his starting pitcher, senior Jordy Wills, whom he credited with a large share of the victory.

“Our pitching was really good,” he said. “Jordy Wills kept us in the game for a long time, and if we hadn’t made those errors, he would have had 20 less pitches, and might have thrown a complete game.” CHSAA rules limit high school pitchers to no more than 110 pitches per game, and three-days’ rest is required for any pitcher throwing more than 85 pitches per game. Wills had 79 pitches, which means he must rest at least two days before pitching again.

Wills pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits, with a strikeout and three walks. At the plate, he helped his own cause with a double and two RBI. Kinnison came on in relief in the sixth, and gave up two hits but no runs in his second appearance of the year.

The Cougars did have a spot of trouble in the field, however. Two throwing errors by Stephens, moving in from the outfield to play third base for Wills, led to two runs for the Wildcats in the bottom of the second. They would tack on their third run when a pick-off attempt by Niwot catcher Goldfarb sailed past third base into the outfield in the bottom of the fourth. McBride said he wasn’t too troubled by the mistakes, given the other clear improvements.

“Except for the early throwing errors on our part, it was a very clean game,” he said. “Without that, I really couldn’t find much wrong with today.”

Next week, the Cougars will enjoy a week off from school, but not from baseball. On Sunday, the team left for Arizona, where they will play five non-league games in the Coach Bob Invitational. McBride said it was good to get their first wins out of the way ahead of their road trip.

“They’re going to get on the plane in a good mood and everybody’s going to be happy,” he said. “We’ll have a good travel day, and then hopefully we’ll go out there and continue to play good baseball.” That said, McBride said he didn’t want to put any undue pressure on his team.

“They’re still finding themselves, even though we’re six games in,” he explained. “We’re just looking to clean things up and play good, solid baseball.”

The Cougars will be back in action after the break on April 6 and 8 for a home-and-home series against Centaurus.

3/23 — Niwot 5, Greeley Central 4

Wildcats (2-5) 101 100 1 — 4 8 1

Cougars (1-4) 002 010 2 — 5 6 3

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 3-2-3-2 Trevor Green 3-0-0-0, Colton Goldfarb 3-0-1-1, Zach Kinnison 3-2-1-1, Joey DesEnfants 3-1-1-0, Fox Garza 1-0-0-0, Hunter Stephens 2-0-0-0, Jordy Wills 1-0-0-0, Joey Neve 4-0-1-0, Hassert 1-0-0-1, Aidon Galloway, 2-0-0-0.

2B — Goldfarb, DesEnfants, Messinger HR— Messinger

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hunter Stephens 5.2-6-3-2-3-6, Dylan Ferrero 1.1-1-1-0-0-0

3/25 — Niwot 16, Greeley Central 3

Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot’s Trevor Green pitches in early season action.

Cougars (2-4) 024 213 4 — 16 11 3

Wildcats (2-6) 020 100 0 — 3 7 6

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 2-2-1-2, Jake Sims 2-1-1-1, Trevor Green 6-2-3-2, Colton Goldfarb 5-1-2-1, Zach Kinnison 6-2-2-1, Joey DesEnfants 3-1-1-3, Fox Garza 1-1-1-1, Hunter Stephens 2-2-0-0, Jordy Wills 3-0-1-2, Joey Neve 3-1-0-0, Chandler Snead 1-2-0-0, Ben Goss

2B — Goldfarb (2), Messinger, Green, Wills SB — DesEnfants (2), Messinger

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jordan Wills 5.1-5-3-0-3-1, Zach Kinnison 1.1-2-0-0-0-1

 

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