All summer long, the Boulder Post 10 baseball team has been playing under the premise that no matter what they would get a crack at some of the region's best teams before the last pitches were thrown.
The schedule the Panthers played put Boulder in a good spot for Wednesday's American Legion Western Regional at Scott Carpenter Park, and the host team certainly proved in their first game against the state champions from Nevada they belonged.
Unfortunately, rain and lightning also had its place in the proceedings on what was the tournament's opening day, and the Panthers did not get in their full game against Las Vegas Post 40 as of press time.
Three frames were completed, with the score tied 1-1. Continued lightning in the area forced the postponement of the game to Thursday at 8 a.m.
"We're going to take it from there with the situation at hand," Boulder coach Tim Kupfner said, referring to the game picking up in the fourth inning with Nevada at bat.
Every game this summer played into the idea of holding their own in the regional, which includes state champions from Colorado and six other states — New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii, California, Nevada and Arizona. The Panthers entered the week having nine players that batted better than .300 over the 42 games they played.
Those bats came to play early for Boulder. In the midst of some loud outs to a space-eating outfield crew, the Panthers had three hits in the first three innings and managed to score a tying run in the bottom of the third on a perfectly placed bunt single off the bat of Brendan Van Haute that forced a throwing error. Ethan Prout scored all the way from first base on the errant throw.
Ben Davis and Derek Cunningham each had base hits, as well.
Nevada had multiple baserunners in each inning against starter Mason Hitz, but the rising senior wiggled out of jams in the second and third inning with help from his defense. Van Haute snagged a hard liner in the second that prevented a run from scoring, and only a run-scoring double from Brett Brocoff in the first inning proved costly.
"I feel like we're right there with these guys and that we belong. I know (Nevada is) a tough team so you never know what's going to happen, but we're going to give it our best shot," Kupfner said. "We can hit the ball. I'm just a little disappointed that we might lose (Hitz). We'll just have to see (Thursday) if he's going to be able to come back at all."
Winners on the first day included California Post 82 (San Mateo); Hawaii Post 35 (Waipahu); and Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins).
Should Boulder win Thursday, it will play Hawaii at roughly 7 p.m. on Thursday night. A loss drops the Panthers to the consolation bracket against Arizona Thursday afternoon.