Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Baseball: Cougars split wins with last place Centaurus


April 12, 2017

On an otherwise beautiful spring day, the Niwot Cougars baseball team turned in its ugliest performance of the season last Saturday, losing 16-6 at home to league opponent Centaurus (3-9, 1-7) in the second of a two-game series. Niwot was outplayed in all three phases of the game, going a collective 6-for-30 at the plate on the day, while committing five errors and surrendering 13 hits. For Head Coach Craig McBride, the defeat was a discouraging step backwards for his recently improved squad.

“I am totally surprised by the way they played today, after winning six of their last eight,” said a dispirited McBride. “They had no drive today. Centaurus came in and wanted it more. We played like crap, that’s all I can say.”

That may be overstating things. Though the Cougars got on the board first, thanks to consecutive extra-base hits by shortstop Skye Messinger and left fielder Trevor Green in the opening frame, it didn’t take long for Warriors senior pitcher Joe Milano to settle into a rhythm. Over the next three innings, Milano fanned seven of the 11 Cougars he faced, allowing two hits but no walks. He finished the game with ten strikeouts, bringing his season total to 36, good for second overall in the Northern League.

On the opposite mound, Cougars pitchers wrestled with control issues all day. Starter Hunter Stephens was sharp in the first inning, getting the first three hitters to ground out, but then faltered. He gave up a homerun to leadoff batter Milano in the second inning, cutting the Cougar lead to 2-1..

In the third inning, a leadoff walk followed by the first of Niwot’s five errors led to two runs, while the second of the Warriors’ two home runs on the day scored another two runs. In relief, seniors Jordy Wills and Zach Kinnison fared no better, giving up ten runs in a combined 3.2 innings, with three wild pitches and six walks.

“Centaurus hit the ball well today,” said McBride about his team’s struggles on the mound. “They took advantage of every pitch we gave them.

We were behind in counts all day, and we had very few first pitch strikes,” he continued. “The wheels came off today, that’s for sure.”

There were a few bright spots for the Cougars. Senior Messinger had three hits on the day, needing just a home run to complete the cycle. His team-leading .442 average is now sixth best in the Northern League. Green had two hits and three RBI, including a double in the fifth inning that scored Messinger from first, inspiring a brief Cougars rally.

The blowout loss came just two days after the Cougars fended off a five-run seventh inning rally by the Warriors, holding on for a 9-7 victory, their third straight. Junior Caleb Martinez went six innings in his second start, giving up eight hits, but allowing just two runs while fanning four. Stephens led the Cougars with two hits and two runs, while Kinnison (3) and Wills (2) combined for five RBI. McBride said that Martinez’s performance, while “not stellar”, was a factor in the win.

“He had a good day,” McBride said. “He has such good command of the strike zone, that even if he has a little bit of an off day, he does well.”

The Cougars will have to take the bitter taste of that loss into their next series against the second-place Mountain View Mountain Lions (8-3, 6-2), a challenge that now seems daunting after Saturday’s defeat.

“We can’t make five errors,” McBride said with a sigh. “We just have to do everything better.”

4/7 — Niwot 9, Centaurus 7

Cougars (6-6, 3-4) 301 012 2 — 9 8 5

Warriors (2-9, 0-7) 011 000 5 — 7 13 7

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 3-1-1-1, Jake Sims 3-2-1-0, Trevor Green 2-1-0-0, Hunter Stephens 3-2-2-0, Zach Kinnison 3-1-1-3, Cameron Hassert 4-0-1-0, Joey DesEnfants 3-0-1-0, Chandler Snead 0-1-0-0, Jordan Wills 3-0-1-2, Joey Neve 3-1-0-1.

2B —DesEnfants, Kinnison, Messinger, Stephens SB — Green, Kinnison, Sims (2)

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Caleb Martinez 6-8-2-2-1-4, Griffin Mitchell 1-5-5-0-0-0

4/9 — Centaurus 16, Niwot 6

Warriors (3-9, 1-7) 014 122 6 — 16 11 2

Cougars (6-7, 3-5) 200 030 1— 6 6 5

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 4-2-3-1, Jake Sims 2-0-0-0, Trevor Green 4-1-2-3, Hunter Stephens 2-0-0-0, Zach Kinnison 2-1-0-1, Cameron Hassert 1-0-0-0, Joey DesEnfants 3-0-1-0, Jordan Wills 3-0-0-0, Joey Neve 4-1-0-0, Aidon Galloway, 2-1-0-0.

2B — Green (2), Messinger 3B — Messinger

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hunter Stephens 3-4-4-3-1, Jordan Wills 3.1-4-6-5-3-0, Zach Kinnison 1.1-5-6-6-2-2.


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