LOVELAND — Collectively, the Silver Creek baseball team may have whiffed Thursday at the opportunity to win the Northern League.
But unlike last year when a tough ending stretch cost them a playoff spot, the Raptors' regular season finale at home Friday will have plenty of seeding implications. That's what the team and their coaching staff held onto after a tough 4-2 loss at the hands of Mountain View that gave the Mountain Lions the outright league title.
Friday the squads will meet again, this time at SCHS. The Raptors (14-4 overall, 9-4 Northern) can only hope everything gets a little tidier after a wishy-washy game at Greg Brock Field. Mountain View's Holden Bernhardt held the Raptors to just three hits and struck out 12 in a dominant effort, and little things added up to all the runs the hosts would need to back that up.
"The reality of it is we have got to execute better throughout the game, and I won't lie that it would have been nice to have been conference champs but we still have a lot to play for," head coach Mike Apodaca said after seeing the only three base knocks against Bernhardt come from the bottom of the order. "How we respond (Friday) is really more telling to me than today's game. I just want to see us come back from this adversity."
Mountain View (16-2, 11-2) was nowhere near flawless, but Bernhardt was on the right side of great while butting heads with SC's Austin Wood. Even when his team let him down defensively — the Mountain Lions had five errors — Bernhardt did his best to make them inconsequential.
In just three innings did back-to-back SC hitters get aboard. They did so in the seventh with two outs as Cole Winn reached on a dropped third strike (an error factored into him reaching, as well) and George Ramirez walked. But this was a game in which the Raptors didn't get runners in scoring position early in innings, and it cost them.
"To be honest, I think the kid on the mound just beat us," said Max Browne, who had a hit and scored a run out of the No. 7 spot in the lineup. "He threw some dirty stuff."
Wood struck out eight Mountain View batters over six innings, but the Lions still were able to touch him up for seven hits. Two walks in the first inning set up Bernhardt for a run-scoring single to make it 1-0, and they were gifted a second run with a two-out wild pitch that scored Dylan Norsen.
Three consecutive hits from the middle of the order in the third inning brought home the other two runs for the home team. The top six spots in the Raptors lineup went 0-for-19.
"We weren't getting guys into scoring position with one or less outs and that makes a huge difference," Apodaca said. "That arm over there is obvious and when they have an early lead it makes for a tough go."
"The one way to take a loss is to use it as motivation for the next game, and I know we can hit these guys," Browne said.
Mountain View 4, Silver Creek 2
At Mountain View HS
Silver Creek 001 100 0 — 2 3 2
Mountain View 202 000 x — 4 7 5
W — Holden Bernhardt. L — Austin Wood.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Cole Winn 4-0-0-0, George Ramirez 2-1-0-0, Nick Metcalf 4-0-0-0, Austin Wood 3-0-0-0, Cason Winn 3-0-0-0, Adam Wager 3-0-0-0, Max Browne 3-1-1-0, Dylan Kramer 3-0-1-0, Nick Gambirasi 3-0-1-1. Totals 28-2-3-1. SB —Co. Winn.
Mountain View hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — TJ Felton 3-1-0-0, Ivan Thomas 2-1-0-0, Dylan Norsen 2-2-2-0, Taven Whitehurst 3-0-1-1, Holden Bernhardt 3-0-3-2, Locke Bernhardt 3-0-0-0, Mike Felton 3-0-0-0, Easton Madrid 3-0-0-0, Reid Nichols 3-0-1-0. 3B —Nichols. SB —Norsen.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Wood 6-7-4-3-3-8.
Mountain View pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — H. Bernhardt 7-3-2-0-2-12.