LONGMONT — As of 5:05 p.m. on Tuesday, all eight of the Northern League baseball teams ranked in the top 30 of the Class 4A RPI standings.
If the season ended on Tuesday, all eight Northern League teams would be in the playoffs. But it doesn't. Given the Northern League teams' propensity for beating up on each other and the standings' remaining potential for change over the next two weeks, the Niwot Cougars are still kicking themselves over the 1-3 non-conference record they dragged into Tuesday's game against Skyline.
The Cougars put an end to their non-league struggles against the Falcons, however, and they left Skyline High School with a 10-1 victory to their credit.
"We needed a non-league win for RPI points," Niwot head coach Craig McBride said. "Now we can go into Thursday against Northridge on a happy note, which is great. We didn't capitalize on our non-league games earlier. We had a really good trip to Arizona and we lost three out of four games by a total of four runs so we missed out on extra points there. We needed to get this win going into our last two league series against Northridge and Thompson Valley."
Coming of a pair of losses to Longmont that snapped a three-game win streak, the Cougars (7-8, 5-5 Northern) got a gem from starter Ford Ladd on Tuesday. The senior struck out 11 batters while allowing just one unearned run in a seven-inning complete game.
While Ladd held the Falcons (5-9, 3-6 Tri-Valley) in check, the Cougars lineup was aided by three Skyline errors and scored 10 runs on six hits. The Cougars held just a one-run lead through four innings but a rash of Skyline miscues allowed them to score eight runs in the final three frames.
"Ford was awesome today," McBride said. "We didn't hit real great today so we were glad to see him get the complete game with a low pitch count. He was ahead in counts, didn't really get deep today at all and gave up just the one unearned run. He was great."
Though the Falcons have shown the ability to compete with quality opponents, they have been outscored 19-4 in their last two games.
"We just didn't play good baseball today," Falcons head coach Travis Schlagel said. "I felt like we were in a good position leading up to these last few games and I don't know what it is but we have just stopped doing the little things completely."
The Cougars will return to Northern League play when they travel to Greeley to face Northridge (9-5, 5-4 Northern) on Thursday. The Falcons are back in Tri-Valley League action at Frederick (1-13, 1-9 Tri-Valley) on Thursday.
Niwot 10, Skyline 1
At Skyline H.S.
Niwot (7-8, 5-5) 011 021 5 — 10 6 3
Skyline (5-9, 3-6) 000 100 0 — 1 3 3
W — Ford Ladd. L — Chris Seger.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Joseph Wilson 3-2-1-0, Jacob Sims 2-1-0-1, Skyler Messinger 4-1-2-2, Ford Ladd 2-0-0-0, Joey Neve 0-1-0-0, Tyler Meek 4-0-0-0, Hunter Stephens 3-1-1-1, Christian Cloar 3-1-0-0, Michael Agado 4-1-1-0, Zachary Morgan 1-2-1-1. Totals 26-10-6-5. 3B — Morgan. SB — Morgan.
Skyline hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Caleb Zietlow 2-0-0-0, Alex Schernecke 3-0-0-0, Nick Hamby 3-1-0-0, Ben Alexander 3-0-2-0, Avery Riddoch 3-0-1-1, Nate Higgins 2-0-0-0, Chris Seger 3-0-0-0, Braden Blick 2-0-0-0, James Lauterbach 1-0-0-0, Daniel Terao 2-0-0-0, Clayton Eldred 1-0-0-0, Jesus Bojorquez 1-0-0-0. Totals 25-1-3-1.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Ford Ladd 7-3-1-0-1-11.
Skyline pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Chris Seger 4.2-4-7-7-6-1, James Lauterbach 1.1-2-1-1-0-2, Daniel Terao 1-0-2-2-1-1.