Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Boulder Collegians fall to Black Bears in RMCBL Playoffs


Photo by Jocelyn Rowley The Boulder Collegians hold a conference on the pitchers mound in their playoff game against the Superior Rough Riders.

More than 50 years ago, Boulder businessman Bauldie Moschetti recruited a team of elite college baseball players to come to Colorado and join his new summer team, the Boulder Collegians. Hoping to compete with prominent collegiate clubs on the East Coast, Moschetti and the Collegians set up shop at Scott Carpenter Park in Boulder and proceeded to make some local history.

Between 1964 and 1980, the Collegians won the National Baseball Congress (NBC) Championships four times, twice in the 60s and twice in the 70s. Over the years, more than 100 players from the squad ended up in the major leagues, including Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who credits his trip to the NBC World Series with the Collegians in 1975 with launching his professional baseball career. Although Maddon never played in the majors, he played four years of minor league baseball before turning to coaching and managing. Other notable Collegian alumni include Maddon’s counterpart in the 2016 World Series, Indians manager Terry Francona, and major league All-Stars Joe Carter, Tony Gwynn, and Mickey Tettleton.

Moschetti’s Collegians folded in 1980, and enthusiasm for semipro baseball in Colorado seemed to go with them. But as the lyric goes, “everything old is new again.” Several collegiate teams have sprung up along the front-range in the last several years, including the newly reconstituted Collegians, resurrected by former Niwot High JV coach Matt Jensen in 2013 and installed once again as Scott Carpenter Park. With three leagues and nearly 30 teams active in the region, Colorado is once more home to quality amateur baseball.

For decades, collegiate baseball clubs have provided standout college baseball players with the chance to develop their skills and play competitive games after their spring seasons have ended. Eligibility rules vary nationally, but in Colorado, collegiate teams recruit recent high-school graduates with college offers and those players with a couple of collegiate years under their belts, whether at the Division I or community college level. The Colorado-based collegiate teams operate as non-profits, and the players are not paid. Recruits from outside the state are housed for the summer with host families, and players may look for work during their off-hours.

The Boulder Collegians are a member of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Baseball League (RMCBL), which bills itself as “the premier collegiate league in the state of Colorado.” The RMCBL has ten teams throughout northern Colorado and Wyoming, which compete with each other for berths in the National Baseball Congress (NBC) Championship Tournament, held annually in Wichita, Kansas. They also play non-league games from teams in the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League, which also competes in the front-range, and the Mountain West Summer College Baseball League, which features western-slope teams.

The club recruits from the all over the country, but is also keeps an eye out for elite area talent. Former Niwot standouts Bryan Meek (‘14) and Connor Messinger (’11) both played for the 2015 squad, and Connor’s brother Skye Messinger was an infielder for the club this year. Other local players include Zach Berohn of Lafayette and Boulder High’s Matt Erickson, who, with Messinger, is one of just three 2017 high school grads playing with the Collegians this summer.

In the five seasons since their reintroduction, the Collegians have enjoyed some modest success. Before this year, they’d amassed an overall record of 98-70, but have never advanced to the NBC Championship Tournament. The 2017 Collegians finished the season with a 17-6 league mark, but their championship hopes ended last Sunday with an 8-5 loss to the Colorado Black Bears in the RMCBL playoffs.

Photo by Jocelyn Rowley The Collegians chalked up a win last week, travelling all around the region in recent weeks for games.

Boulder hosted a first round game on July 13, against the Superior Rough Riders, coming away with an 8-2 win to advance to the next round on July 15 at All-Star Park in Lakewood. There, the Collegians fell to the Sterling Xpress 11-1 when a run-scoring error by Collegians catcher Noah Lee (Texas-Rio Grande Valley) in the bottom of the 5th ended the game by rule. Messinger, who played third base throughout the weekend, scored a run in the second inning of game one and reached base in the fifth inning in against the Xpress.

The Xpress beat the Black Bears in the semi-finals of the RMCBL Championships on July 16, and advanced to the title game against the Denver Cougars, which they won 12-1. The Xpress move on to the NBC Championship, which begins on July 22.

The Collegians are already recruiting host families for the 2018, and are always looking for sponsors and volunteers. For more information about the Boulder Collegians, visit http://www.bouldercollegians.com.


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