Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Baseball: Niwot drops two to Thompson Valley


April 26, 2017

It was déjà vu all over again last Saturday against Thompson Valley, as the Niwot baseball team took another hard-earned lead into the seventh inning only to see it slip away, bit by agonizing bit. Not even heroics from standout shortstop Skye Messinger could save the day, as Niwot pitchers allowed five hits and a walk in the bottom of the seventh to hand league foe Thompson Valley an 8-7 walk-off victory.

For head coach Craig McBride, the Eagles’ late game comeback was just one more indication of the Northern League’s confounding depth.

“We have something like four teams in the top twelve in the state,” McBride said after the loss. “Close games like that are going to happen.”

After falling 13-3 to the Eagles in the series opener two days earlier, the Cougars and their fans were eager for a close game, and Saturday’s game seemed poised to be the one that went the Cougars’ way for a change.

Niwot got on the board first when senior Joey Neve scored on an error by second baseman Kaleb White in the top of the third. Later that inning, Trevor Green’s seventh double of the year scored Messinger and senior Jake Sims, putting the Cougars up 3-0. The Eagles quickly tied it up, but Niwot regained the lead in the fourth when a Thompson Valley error allowed senior Hunter Stephens to score from second base. The Eagles tied it up again in the sixth, but Niwot exploded for three runs in the seventh on back to back homeruns from Messinger and Green, and the Cougars’ seventh victory of the year seemed nigh.

In the bottom of the seventh, though, Niwot once again fell victim to inconsistent pitching and defense. After giving up two shaky infield singles, starter Caleb Martinez was relieved by senior Zach Kinnison, who gave up three runs on two extra-base hits. Two batters later, with the winning win on third, a slow dribbler towards left field got past Jordan Wills at third, and the Eagles claimed their 10th victory of the year.

Despite the loss, McBride said he couldn’t find much fault with the way his team performed. “They played really well today,” he said. “We felt good, especially in that seventh inning when we scored those runs. I always use the phrase, ‘Big time players make big time plays in big time situations,’ and we had a bunch of those today.”

As usual, a number of those “big plays” were at the hands of Messinger, who finished the day with two hits and two RBI. He now leads the Northern League in homeruns (3) and triples (4), and is second in batting average (.482) and on-base percentage (.574). “He was clutch today,” said McBride of his star senior.

Green ended the day with two hits and three RBI, while Neve extended his hit-streak to four games, coming up big with two clutch singles and an RBI. Kinnison and junior Colton Goldfarb also had singles on the day.

“We had key hits in key situations,” McBride said of the offensive effort.

On the mound, Martinez was sharp again, going 6.1 innings, and striking out six with no walks before running up against his 110 maximum pitch count. Though he allowed six runs, just three were earned, dropping his team leading ERA to 2.55.

“He’s so mentally tough,” said McBride of his junior hurler. “If he gets behind in counts, he comes right back and pitches to contact, and does everything a good pitcher needs to do.”

With the losses to Thompson Valley, Niwot fell to 6-11 on the season, and 3-9 in the Northern League with two games remaining in the regular season. Ranked 47th in the Class 4A RPI standings, it seems likely the Cougars will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Next week, Niwot takes on the Longmont Trojans (7-6, 6-6) in the season’s final series, at Longmont on April 27 and then home on April 29.

4/19 — Thompson Valley 13, Niwot 3

Eagles (9-4, 6-3) 227 110 — 13 9 4

Cougars (6-10, 3-8) 101 100 — 3 6 10

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

2B — Green HR — Green, Messinger

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jordan Wills 1.2-4-3-0-1-0, Hunter Stephens 2.1-5-9-8-4-0, Griffin Mitchell 1-1-1-0-0-1.

4/22 Thompson Valley 8, Niwot 7

Cougars (6-11, 3-9) 003 100 3 — 7 8 1

Eagles (10-4, 7-3) 003 001 4 — 8 14 2

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

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

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Caleb Martinez 6.1-11-6-3-0-6, Zach Kinnison 0.2-3-2-2-1-0.


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