LONGMONT — Dagin Renck got the 'W' next to his name in the box score for his excellent work in the top of the seventh inning Saturday, but if there was any one kid who saved Longmont's hides against Elizabeth in an 8-7 victory, it was sophomore Noah Befus.
In the midst of teammates struggling to find the strike zone early on against the Cardinals, Befus came on in a tight situation knowing the bleeding needed to be stopped. After allowing two inherited runners to score on a hit to the first batter he faced, Befus' Band-Aid effort (3 ⅔ innings, no earned runs) allowed the rest of the Trojans time to follow suit and improve to 4-1 on the season.
Longmont didn't need much time to rally, actually, as it matched Elizabeth's seven-run fourth frame with six runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. However, the Trojans pitching down the stretch allowed the game to stay tied up until the bottom of the seventh, when Cooper Rothe hit a walk-off ground-rule double to score pinch-runner Alec Thompson.
It was Befus's first appearance on the hill this season, coming off only one pitching appearance last year, as well.
"I just tried to come out and keep them from adding to what they had already put up," said Befus, who also went 1 for 3 with an RBI at the plate. "I feel like I just came in and did what I needed to do."
"He had a calf injury on Thursday and is still hobbling a little bit from that, so he went out with that and beared down to do a good job," added Longmont coach Tom Fobes.
With four Northern League games next week and a fifth coming up the following Monday, the Trojans needed Befus to eat up innings hoping Austin Hassler and Renck can be rested. Renck will pitch again Monday against Silver Creek.
Hassler was pitching well until walks caught up with him in the fourth, and Elizabeth (6-5) cashed in on four walks and four hits for its big inning. Befus came on with one out in the frame and the score 5-1, but after a hit to three-hole hitter Kyle Savikas, he retired the next eight batters he faced. That included some help as right fielder Miguel Moroyoqui gunned down a runner at second base as he tried to stretch a single to a double, ending the sixth.
The Trojans also used a mess of free bases (three hit batters, two walks) and four hits to get back in the game in the fourth, and after getting runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings managed to get the game-winning run home after Matt Zamudio doubled to lead off their final at-bat.
"In the end, we get the win but we've been talking about body language and energy level, and we didn't have it today and we haven't had it in practice for awhile," Fobes said. "Our shoulders slumped and that fourth inning became seven runs just like that. We were able to come back and get the win but we need to find a better level of intensity."
Rothe had two doubles and drove in three runs overall, and Kavan Andrew had two hits and three stolen bases. Renck was flawless in the seventh with two strikeouts and a lazy flyout.
Longmont 8, Elizabeth 7
At Longmont HS
Elizabeth 000 700 0 — 7 8 2
Longmont 100 600 1 — 8 8 1
W — Dagin Renck. L — Jackson Wherry.
Elizabeth hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Grant Warren 4-1-1-1, Jackson Wherry 4-1-3-2, Kyle Savikas 4-0-2-2, Corbin Kloppenberg 3-1-0-0, Colin Stienke 4-1-1-0, Garret Hawkins 1-1-0-0, Dusty Lawson 1-0-0-0, Nate Klein 2-0-0-0, Jake Lawson 1-0-0-0, Tyler Richardson 2-1-0-1, Kellan Day 2-1-1-1. Totals 28-7-8-7.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Cooper Rothe 4-1-2-3, Kavan Andrew 3-2-2-1, Mason Peterson 4-0-0-0, Miguel Moroyoqui 3-1-1-1, Austin Hassler 3-0-1-0, Connor Hayes 0-0-0-0, Noah Befus 3-1-1-1, Dagin Renck 2-1-0-0, Matt Zamudio 3-0-1-0, Alec Thompson 0-1-0-0, Ryan Rulon 3-1-0-0. Totals 28-8-8-6. 2B — Rothe 2, Zamudio. SB — Andrew 3, Hayes.
Elizabeth pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Richardson 3.2-5-6-5-3-2, Wherry 2.2-3-2-2-2-2.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hassler 3-3-3-3-2-3, Moroyoqui 0.1-2-4-4-2-1, Befus 3.2-3-0-0-0-3, Renck 1-0-0-0-0-2.