The less the ball hits the catcher's mitt, the more likely those around the rest of the baseball diamond are to make a mistake, be it physical or mental.
For Boulder and Longmont/Erie during Friday's Boulder NIT elimination game at Scott Carpenter Park, the consistent contact for one team proved to be too much for the other. That's the way Longmont/Erie made it through pool play, and certainly a big chunk of the reason it was able to squeak past Boulder, 6-3, to continue marching on in the tournament.
Longmont/Erie, who have dubbed themselves the Trogers in the dugout, have taken the phrase "put it in play" to a whole new level in the NIT. They did not strike out one time on Friday, and in going 3-1 so far have only struck out a total of four times.
For the fourth game, they also exceeded double-digits in hits, this time with 10 base knocks.
"They put the ball in play, and rightfully so, the whole game," Boulder coach Colt Sedbrook said. "We were pitching behind the whole time ... the 1-5 hitters just absolutely pounded the ball for them."
"Pretty much all summer, we rarely strike out and that's nice to see," added Erie player Zane Begano. "Even when we do, we all work and know what we need to do the next at-bat.
"We had a great start to the game, got some nice base hits."
For the most part, the Panthers played excellent defense against Longmont/Erie. Andrew McCarthy snagged two line drives at short and Adam Stowe made two dandy catches in right field, and the Panthers had no errors in the game. However, when Boulder left the door even slightly ajar, the visitors took advantage.
That started in the opening frame, as runners moved up on base hits when Boulder outfielders tried to gun out two baserunners at home. Three runs ended up scoring for Longmont/Erie off starter Ari Barnett in the inning, and solo home runs from Cooper Rothe and Miguel Moroyoqui in the fifth and sixth innings kept some distance between the teams.
The Panthers loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but Tommy Baumgartner's first-pitch fly ball to left field ended the threat.
Sedbrook praised his players for competing, but at the same time couldn't accept some of the silly mistakes that proved costly in a winnable game.
"We had a couple of guys get on base, then get (picked off)" Sedbrook said as his team finished 2-2 in the NIT. "Mental miscues, the cardinal sins of baseball, keeping the double play in order, hitting the cuts, varying looks ... it's all there. We might have been worrying about being too perfect."
"Overall, competing, we definitely did that over the course of the tournament. They continue to fight for each other."
For Longmont/Erie, spot starter Cody Beaver admittedly wasn't his best, but he gave his team a complete-game effort with five walks and five strikeouts. The Mead High student has pitched occasionally for the team, mixing baseball in around a work schedule.
Friday, he worked in a lot of pitches and also picked off three baserunners.
"It's big stretches sometimes, and I don't really do anything to keep the arm loose," Beaver said. "The only time I've thrown is with them. Coming on as a pick-up player, you don't want to let anybody down. It was tough because I didn't have my command, but my team helped me a lot. Threw a lot of pitches."
"There were a lot of loud outs on both sides, and it could have easily been different," Longmont/Erie coach Tom Fobes said. "For not having even thrown a bullpen in two weeks, (Beaver) did a great job. He just kept going back out there."
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Longmont/Erie 6, Boulder Purple 3
At Scott Carpenter Park
Longmont/Erie 301 011 0 — 6 10 1
Boulder 100 101 0 — 3 6 0
W — Beaver. L — Barnett.
Longmont/Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Rothe 4-2-3-1, Begano 3-1-1-1, Sorenson 1-0-0-0, Peterson 4-1-2-1, Ogimachi 4-1-1-0, Moroyoqui 3-1-2-2, Andrew 3-0-0-0, Crites 2-0-0-0, Cacala 3-0-1-0, Renck 2-0-0-0. Totals 29-6-10-5. HR —Rothe, Moroyoqui. SB —Rothe, Rulon 2.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — A. Stowe 3-0-0-0, McCarthy 4-0-0-0, Baumgartner 2-3-1-0, Sullivan 3-0-2-2, C. Stowe 3-0-1-1, Ryan 2-0-0-0, Gould 2-0-0-0, Douglas 2-0-0-0, Burke 3-0-2-0. 2B — Baumgartner, C. Stowe, Burke. SB —Baumgartner.
Longmont/Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Beaver 7-6-3-3-5-5.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Barnett 4-7-5-5-0-0, McBirney 3-3-1-1-1-0.