LONGMONT — Before Saturday, a four-game spring trip to Arizona had accounted for the Niwot baseball team's entire playable schedule to start the 2016 season.
Finally getting their first opportunity to face an in-state opponent, the Cougars put their best foot forward to kick off what they expect to be an optimistic month of April.
At Silver Creek on Saturday afternoon, Niwot (2-4, 1-1 Northern) rallied late to collect a 9-7 win in the first game of a doubleheader with previously unbeaten Northern League rival Silver Creek. The Silver Creek Raptors (6-1, 2-1 Northern), however, won 4-1 in Game 2.
"I was proud of the guys," Niwot junior Skyler Messinger said. "I thought we fought pretty hard in both games, especially coming back there late in the first one. We have some good talent out there on the mound in (Austin) Wood and (Cole) Winn and I thought our guys handled it pretty well."
Trailing going into the seventh inning of Game 1, in which the lead flip-flopped three times after the fifth inning, Cougars junior outfielder Jake Sims hit a based-loaded double to put Niwot up 9-7. Messinger struck out two batters to close out the Cougars' conference opener with a scoreless frame in the bottom of the inning.
Both teams had their share of miscues in the first game, but both also returned from long trips and have spent little time on the outdoor practice field because of the inclement weather in March.
"They just got back the other day and we haven't been outside since we got back a week and a half ago, so I was expecting a little rust today," Niwot head coach Craig McBride said. "Their guy on the bump was just good in the second game. He didn't walk anybody and he gave us no room to wiggle. He just beat us in the second game."
In Game 2, Silver Creek sophomore Cole Winn was nearly untouchable on the mound. Teaming up with battery mate Cason Winn, his older brother, Cole Winn allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings and struck out 11 batters. Austin Wood drove in three runs and Sam Elting drove one to pace the offense and Dylan Ordway picked up the save.
"Today felt like the first time I could actually command my off-speed stuff," Cole Winn said. "My fastball was there in my first three starts. But today I felt like I had the off-speed and that's what got the hitters off balance."
Silver Creek will play at Thompson Valley (2-2, 0-1 Northern) on Thursday. Niwot will host Centaurus (2-3, 0-2 Northern) on Tuesday.
Niwot 9, Silver Creek 7
At Silver Creek H.S.
Niwot 010 005 3 — 9 9 4
Silver Creek 101 203 0 — 7 9 4
W — Stephens. SV — Messinger.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Trevor 0-1-0-0, Romey Clement 3-0-2-1, Tyler Meek 4-1-2-0, Ford Ladd 4-0-0-0, Jake Sims 3-1-1-2, Christian Cloar 2-1-0-0, Stephens 3-1-1-0, Joe Wilson 4-0-2-3, Michael Agado 2-2-0-0, Skyler Messinger 3-0-1-0. Totals 28-7-9-6. 2B — Sims, Messinger. SB — Stephens.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Sam Elting 2-2-0-1, Cade Call 4-1-2-0, Austin Wood 4-0-2-1, Dylan Kramer 4-0-1-0, Cole Winn 4-2-1-1, George Ramirez 4-0-0-1, Nick Metcalf 0-1-0-0, Nick Gambirasi 2-0-1-1, Max Browne 4-1-0-0, Cason Winn 3-0-2-0. Totals 31-7-9-5. 2B — Wood Co. Winn. SB — Cole Borrego, Elting, Co. Winn, Browne.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Tyler Meek 5-8-4-2-2-3, Hunter Stephens 1-2-2-2-0-0, Skyler Messinger 1-0-0-0-0-2.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Austin Wood 5.1-3-3-3-5-2, Nick Gambirasi 1.2-6-6-5-2-1.
Silver Creek 4, Niwot 1
At Silver Creek H.S.
Silver Creek 002 420 0 — 4 6 1
Niwot 001 000 0 — 1 4 0
W — Winn. SV — Ordway.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Cole Borrego 3-0-0-0, Sam Elting 3-2-2-1, Austin Wood 3-0-2-3, Dylan Kramer 2-0-0-0, Daylan Ordway 1-0-0-0, Cole Winn 1-0-0-0, George Ramirez 2-0-0-0, Nick Metcalf 4-1-1-0, Adam Wager 3-0-0-0, Max Browne 0-1-0-0, Cason Winn 3-0-1-0. Totals 25-4-6-4. 2B — Elting, Wood. SB — Browne 2, Elting.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Joseph Wilson 4-0-2-0, Hunter Stephens 4-0-1-1, Skyler Messinger 3-0-0-0, Ford Ladd 2-0-0-0, Trevor Green 0-0-0-0, Tyler Meek 2-0-0-0, Christian Cloar 3-0-0-0, Michael Agado 2-0-0-0, Zachary Morgan 3-0-1-0, Jacob Sims 3-1-0-0, Joey Neve 0-0-0-0. Totals 26-1-4-1. 2B — Wilson. SB — Sims.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Cole Winn 5.1-3-1-1-4-11, Dylan Ordway 1.2-1-0-0-0-2.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Ford Ladd 6-5-4-4-5-4, Skyler Messinger 1-1-0-0-0-1.