LAFAYETTE — With both teams posting season on-base percentages nearing the .400 mark entering Tuesday's game, Niwot and Centaurus seemed due for a slugfest.
And, the tone was set as soon as the first inning at the CHS field, when both starting pitchers crushed three-run home runs off each other in the Northern League contest. All told, there were 48 baserunners in the game, but Niwot brought home a few more in a 14-10 decision for the Cougars to sweep the season set over the Warriors.
"This was a way different game than the past couple with our starting pitching, but it was nice to see our bats get going and reliable when our pitching wasn't quite on," said Niwot head coach Craig McBride, whose team improved to 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the league. "We're just waiting to put everything together at the same time."
"We didn't score at all last week against Mountain View, so we knew we needed to come out swinging today," said senior Ford Ladd, one of three Cougars to hit home runs in the game. "We worked hard on hitting (Monday), just back to some fundamentals and it showed."
Centaurus (3-6, 1-5) actually scored in more innings, but it was Niwot's eight-run third frame that vaulted it to a big lead of which the Cougars hung on. After an error with two outs could have gotten Centaurus out of the jam trailing just 6-4, Skyler Messinger instead made it a big scoring sequence for NHS when he hammered a grand slam to right center field. Michael Agado followed with a two-run single to make it 12-4.
Tyler Meek also homered for Niwot, the first three blasts of the season for the Cougars.
Meek's shot came in the first off Joe Milano, but Milano returned the favor with one of his own — both of the home runs clearing the tall center-field fence more than 400 feet from home plate.
Centaurus scratched out six runs between the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and made it a 12-10 game going to the seventh. But the Warriors could not answer Ladd's two-run dinger, getting just one hit off the closer Messinger.
"We got guys in with two outs, so that was big," Ladd said. "I needed (the home run)."
The Warriors have a couple such losses where they've fallen behind and had to work hard to catch back up. Eric Gambon had three hits in the loss, and Balin Jessip and Milano each drove in three.
"We just have to make the routine plays more routine, because one error can lead to bad things and it this game it led to a grand slam," said Gambon, a junior. "We swung really well today, and we need to make the plays that are going to get us in position to where we're not down eight, nine runs."
Niwot 14, Centaurus 10
At Centaurus HS
Niwot 318 000 2 — 14 14 3
Centaurus 310 132 0 — 10 10 2
W — Tyler Meek. L — Joe Milano. Sv — Skyler Messinger.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Joe Wilson 2-0-0-1, Hunter Stephens 5-2-2-0, Skyler Messinger 5-3-3-4, Trevor Green 0-0-0-0, Ford Ladd 5-2-2-2, Tyler Meek 3-3-1-3, Christian Cloar 2-1-1-0, Michael Agado 4-1-2-2, Zach Morgan 4-1-1-0, Jake Sims 2-1-2-1. 2B —Ladd, Agado, Morgan. 3B —Sims. HR —Messinger, Ladd, Meek. SB —Green.
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Balin Jessip 5-1-2-3, Manny Lucero 3-1-0-0, Eric Gambon 4-1-3-0, Brandon Larson 4-1-0-0, Joe Milano 1-2-1-3, Mitch Koch 2-0-1-0, Trevor Erickson 3-1-1-0, Lucas DiSabato 2-0-0-0, Brayden Rizzi 2-1-2-1, Greg Smith 2-1-0-0, Jeff DeBouvier 2-0-0-1, Anthony Losasso 2-1-0-0. Totals 32-10-10-8. HR —Milano. SB —Jessip.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Meek 4-6-5-3-3-4, Stephens 1-2-5-3-4-2, Griffin Mitchell 0.1-1-0-0-0-0, Messinger 1.2-1-0-0-0-0.
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Milano 2.2-7-10-4-3-3, Nick Titus 0.0-2-2-0-2-0, Mitch Koch 2.1-2-0-0-2-0, Larson 2-3-2-2-0-1.