FORT COLLINS — Country singer Tyler Farr's name won't show up in the box score of Saturday's Front Range League opener between Fairview and Poudre, but maybe he should get credit for a save.
It was his song "Better in Boots" that provided just the right amount of motivation for Knights junior Matt Erickson as he made his way from Boulder to Fort Collins after his ACT test.
He showed up to the field in the middle of the second inning, went to the mound in the top of the third — with his team down 4-2 — and shut the door on the Impalas. He struck out 11 over the final six innings and helped the Knights to a 6-5 eight inning victory in their league opener.
"There was a sense of urgency put on the game, so there wasn't a lot of physical warm-up," Erickson said. "I warmed up in the car."
It was the epitome of a team victory for coach David Castillo's team. He was forced to shuffle his line-up before the start of the game and took infield with just eight guys. He had kids taking the ACT's in Boulder, Longmont and in Fort Collins.
"I tell my guys that have a lot of interchangeable part and can play a lot of positions, it doesn't matter where you jump in, just be ready to help the team," said Castillo, whose team was playing its first game since beating No. 1 Regis last week.
Fairview tied up the game in the top of the third, plating two unearned runs on a Tanner Schoeninger wild pitch and throwing error by catcher Tristan Kincaid.
The game would stay that way into the eighth inning, but not without a few close calls for both Schoeninger and Erickson along the way.
In the bottom of the fifth, Schoeninger lead off with a single and moved to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch. On Ryan Clarkin's suicide squeeze attempt, Schoeninger wandered a little to far off of the base and was eventually tagged out by third baseman Nick Fano after catcher Sam McGill chased him back to the bag.
Fairview's chance came in the top of the seventh. A two-out triple — one of three in the game for the Knights — by Erickson went for naught after Tyler Carpenter struck out.
In the bottom half of the frame, Poudre also got a triple from Caiden Boyt with one out. The next batter, Troy McFadden, lifted a fly ball to shallow right field and Boyt decided to test the arm of Mitch Tyse.
Tyse threw him out by 10 feet.
Fairview (4-3, 1-0) carried the momentum into extras and a two-out rally sealed the deal. A Stone Streeter single and a Liam McKee walk set the table for Jake Willemsen. His soft-liner over the head of the first baseman plated two runs that proved to be the difference.
"I knew I didn't want to try and do anything huge," said Willemsen, who also took his ACT test earlier in the day. "I didn't want to swing for the fences, I just wanted to get a base knock and drive in those runs."
Poudre loaded the bases in the bottom of the eight, prompting Castillo to pay a quick visit to the mound.
"I just wanted to give (Erickson) a breather, he's had a long day," Castillo said. "I told him, you are still in control even though the bases are loaded and I wanted to talk to the infielders to make sure the communicated with the outfielders that the runner at first couldn't score and make sure their are no doubles.
"But most importantly, to just relax."
Erickson promptly hit Keaton Bartlett to bring in the Impalas fifth run, but he then turned around and got Cam Spaeth — who led off the game with a home run off of emergency starter Will Mossa on the first pitch he saw — to strike out on three pitches.
Fairview 6, Poudre 5 (8)
Fairview (4-3, 1-0) 112 000 02 — 6 7 0
Poudre (2-6, 0-1) 310 000 01 — 5 11 1
W — Matt Erickson (3-1). L — Evan Johnson (0-2).
Fairview hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Nick Fano 3-1-1-0, Will Mossa 2-0-0-1, Matt Erickson 1-0-1-0, Teddy Lewitt 0-0-0-0, Tyler Carpenter 3-1-0-0, Mitch Tyse 4-1-1-0, Danny Sheridan 3-0-0-1, Stone Streeter 3-2-1-0, Liam McKee 3-1-2-1, Jordan Scheufele 2-0-0-0, Jake Willemson 2-0-1-2, Josh Hensley 1-0-0-0, Sam McGill 3-0-0-0. Totals 30-6-7-5. 2B — McKee. 3B — Fano, McKee, Erickson. SB — Tyse, Sheridan, Willemson.
Poudre hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Cam Spaeth 5-1-1-1, Caiden Boyt 3-0-1-0, Troy McFadden 4-1-1-0, Tanner Schoeninger 3-0-3-1, James Belk 0-1-0-0, Ryan Clarkin 4-1-2-1, Kellen Kirkwood 3-1-1-1, Tristan Kincaid 4-0-1-0, Joe D'Antonio 0-0-0-0, Caleb Massey 2-0-1-0, Evan Johnson 0-0-0-0, Keaton Bartlett 2-0-0-1. Totals 30-5-11-5. 2B — Clarkin, Schoeninger. 3B — Boyt. HR — Spaeth (solo in the 1st).
Fairview pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mossa 2-7-4-4-1-1, Erickson 6-4-1-1-3-11.
Poudre pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Schoeninger 7-5-4-2-5-9, Johnson 1-2-2-2-1-1.