Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Baseball: Messinger shines in extra-inning loss to Mountain View


April 18, 2017

For the second Saturday in a row, the Niwot baseball team took a tough loss at home to a league foe, but unlike last weekend’s 16-6 debacle against Centaurus, there wasn’t much to criticize about the Cougars’ performance against the Mountain View Mountain Lions. Up 4-1 after the third inning, junior pitcher Caleb Martinez had Mountain View’s heavy hitters flummoxed, and Niwot’s batters were taking advantage of an error-prone Mountain Lion infield.

Even after Mountain View took the lead in the top of the fourth, senior Skye Messinger delivered a two-run bomb, putting the Cougars up one run going into the last inning. But the resilient Mountain Lions proved worthy of their 8th-place Class 4A ranking, first tying the game in the seventh, and then winning in the eighth on a Mike Felton double that brought home sophomore Nate Vondy, who advanced into scoring position on a controversial balk call.

For Head Coach Craig McBride, it was a tough loss, but he gave credit to the Cougars for how they played against the Northern League’s first place team.

“That’s a really good ball club,” he said of the 11-3 Mountain Lions. “They’re scrappy. They keep fighting all the time, just like we do.

We had a good effort today, in teams of the game in general,” he continued. “We didn’t give them as much, and that’s a good thing.”

That said, McBride said that the game should have gone the other way.

“I think, and the guys agree, that we left some plays out there that we could have made, and that made the difference in the game.”

The Cougars got off to a quick start in Saturday’s contest, scoring two runs each in the top two frames. In the first, Messinger scored on a Hunter Stephens single after reaching base on an error, and then, with two outs in the second, nabbed the first of his three RBI with a single that scored senior Zach Kinnison. The star shortstop ended the day with three hits, raising his average to .469, which is fourth overall in the Northern League.

“Skye had another great game today,” said McBride. “Offensively, he’s been on fire lately.”

In his last four games, Messinger has eight hits, five of them for extra bases, and seven RBI, bringing his season total to 17, third highest in the conference.

On the mound for the Cougars, Martinez had good command in the first three innings, striking out six, while holding the high-scoring Mountain Lions to just one run on three hits. In the fourth, though, the league-leading Mountain View offense finally made an appearance, scoring four runs on five hits, and spoiling an otherwise solid start for Martinez, who finished the day with eight strikeouts and just one walk.

“Caleb pitched well, but had some issues in the top of the fourth” said McBride. “He was throwing quality pitches, but we didn’t make a couple of plays, and let them back in.”

In the game’s late innings, Mountain View took advantage of some careless Niwot defense and ill-timed give-aways from the pitching staff to make their comeback. The Lions were also the beneficiaries of two disputed rulings by the umpires in the eighth inning, first on the balk that advanced the game-winning run to second, followed by a questionable out call at first when Kinnison tried to beat out a dropped third strike.

“We never blame the umps,” said McBride of the controversial decisions, clearly not speaking for the Cougar spectators. “A balk is a balk. There are no warnings in high school baseball. And the call at first, I thought about going out and talking to him [the umpire], but that’s a hard call to get overturned. He saw what he saw.”

Niwot also lost a close game to the Mountain Lions on Thursday, despite another outstanding performance from Messinger, with two hits and and two RBI. He was helped by junior Colton Goldfarb, who went two-for-three with two doubles, bringing his team-leading total to nine. The pair accounted for all of the Cougar runs in the 5-3 defeat, while the pitching combo of Stephens and Kinnison held the Mountain Lions to their lowest run total since March 29.

With the two losses, Niwot’s record dropped to 6-9 on the season, with four games remaining. Up next for the Cougars is Thompson Valley (8-4, 5-3), fresh off two consecutive wins over the Longmont Trojans (6-5, 5-5), who Niwot will face in the final series of the year.

“Everyone’s good in our league,” said McBride about the upcoming matchups. “Hopefully, we put together a couple of games against Thompson Valley like we did this week, because we played pretty well, but just didn’t come out on the right end.”

4/13 — Mountain View 5, Niwot 3

Cougars (6-8, 3-6) 003 000 0 — 3 5 3

Mountain Lions (10-3, 7-3) 110 201 - — 5 8 –

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 2-1-1-2, Colton Goldfarb 3-0-2-1, Zach Kinnison 3-1-1-0, Hunter Stephens 3-0-0-0, Joey DesEnfants 3-0-0-0, Jordan Wills 3-0-0-0, Joey Neve 3-1-1-0, Griffin Mitchell 3-0-0-0, Fox Garza 1-0-0-0, Aidon Galloway 2-0-0-0.

2B — Goldfarb (2) SB — Messinger

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

4/15 Mountain View 7, Niwot 6

Mountain Lions (11-3, 8-3) 001 400 11 — 7 15 3

Cougars (6-9, 3-7) 220 200 00 — 6 9 3

Hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Skye Messinger 4-2-3-3, Jake Sims 5-1-1-0, Trevor Green 5-0-1-0, Colton Goldfarb 2-0-0-0, Zach Kinnison 4-2-1-0, Hunter Stephens 3-0-1-1, Joey DesEnfants 3-0-0-0, Jordan Wills 3-0-0-0, Joey Neve 4-1-2-0.

2B — Green , Messinger HR — Messinger SB —Kinnison, Messinger, Snead

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Caleb Martinez 4.2-`0-5-2-1-8, Jordan Wills 2.1-3-1-1-2-1, Zach Kinnison 1-2-1-1-0-0.


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