DENVER — Still both very young clubs within the Rocky Mountain Baseball League, the Superior Rough Riders and Boulder Collegians each enter July in the mix for their first regular season title and an automatic trip to the National Baseball Congress World Series.
The push for separation for both teams will have to wait another day. On Sunday at the Regis University baseball field, the squads split a doubleheader to remain as much in the race as they were before. About four other RMBL teams reside in a bunched up, top-heavy league — all with eight or fewer league losses.
Winning percentage has the Rough Riders as the team to catch still after they gained an 8-7 victory in Game 1 to improve to 16-6. The Collegians, meanwhile, moved to 16-8 in league by winning the second contest, 12-2 in six innings.
"We knew they were first in the league but if we beat them twice we could have taken over. We thought we had that first game ... but we're getting things together right now toward the end of the season," said Boulder Collegians player Dean Lawson, who went 4-for-4 with three RBI in Game 2. "It's been good lately."
Lawson, who attends Northern Colorado, was in fine form at the plate, as were the rest of his teammates in a combined 15-hit attack. He singled in runs in the second, third and sixth innings — the latter actually coming on a catcher's interference call while at the plate with the bases loaded.
It was his biggest effort at the plate so far this summer as he continues to work on getting swings in.
"Coach Haas (Pratt) has been doing a great job of splitting playing time, and I think that's helping us click well," Lawson said. "For me, it's about working on a lot of different things right now. It feels good when things start to go your way, and (Sunday) was that kind of day."
In addition to Lawson, Florida native Jeromy Taylor (2-for-4, four RBI) and Clayton Harp (2-for-2, four runs) helped along the mercy-rule win.
The split also continued an upward surge for the Collegians, who ran into a losing stretch in mid-June surrounding a trip to play the Grand Junction Rockies. Since June 19, the club is 9-3.
"Going down the stretch we have a lot of games against good teams like this, teams looking at that top spot. The guys knew this was the top team in the league right now," added Pratt. "I was happy with how we swung the bats, and we were aggressive on the basepaths.
"Everybody seems to be healthy and taking care of themselves off the field, and we've kind of instilled in them the importance of that if we want to be successful."
Boulder will host its annual July 4 doubleheader on Monday at Scott Carpenter Park against the Golden Grizzlies. Games are scheduled for 6 and 8 p.m., and fans are encouraged to hang out for fireworks afterward.
Boulder Collegians 12, Superior Rough Riders 2
At Regis University
Rough Riders 000 011 — 2 2 4
Collegians 043 023 — 12 15 3
W — Sorrenson. L — Foster.
Rough Riders hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Bryniarski 3-0-0-0, Adkins 3-1-0-0, Thoning 3-0-0-0, Peterson 2-0-1-1, Tarantola 3-0-0-0, Giron 3-0-0-0, Baumgartner 2-0-1-0, Ayala 1-1-0-0, Winn 2-0-0-1. 2B —Peterson. SB —Ayala 2.
Collegians hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Ibarra 3-3-1-1, Lawson 4-1-4-3, Taylor 4-0-2-4, Vasquez 3-0-1-1, Koerselman 4-0-1-0, Fields 4-1-1-0, Hirsh 4-0-0-0, Harp 2-4-2-1, Pleaschner4-3-3-0. Totals 32-12-15-10. 2B — Taylor 2, Fields, Harp 2.
Rough Riders pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Foster 5-13-9-5-4-3, Williams 0.1-2-3-2--1-0.
Collegians pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sorrenson 4.1-1-0-0-0-3, Vega 1.2-1-2-1-1-2.
Rough Riders 8, Collegians 7
Rough Riders 210 002 3 — 8 12 1
Collegians 101 014 0 — 7 11 3