NIWOT — After one inning on Tuesday, the Niwot baseball team appeared to have unlocked the secret to avoiding another lop-sided loss to Northridge.
But the Cougars' first-inning shine faded quickly and the Cougars fell 9-4 at home, ending the conference series sweep having fallen by the same score twice to the Grizzlies.
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the Cougars have now lost four of their last five games.
"It can be turned around easily," Niwot head coach Craig McBride said. "But we're not going to turn it around until we start making the routine plays. That's it. We made a bunch of errors today on routine plays that bit us. That's how baseball is. You don't make those routine plays and then the seeing-eye ground balls and bloopers turn into runs when you put yourself in situations where you should be out of innings."
The Grizzlies (11-6, 7-5 Northern), who rode a four-run first inning to a 9-4 win over the Cougars on Thursday, jumped on the Cougars (7-10, 5-7 Northern) for two runs on three hits in the first inning. In the second game of the series, however, the Cougars responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on an RBI fielder's choice from Tyler Meek and a run-scoring single from Christian Cloar.
The Cougars couldn't muster the offense to keep up after that. They had just one hit in the next five innings while the Grizzlies scored in each of the final five frames.
After putting up a single run in the third, the Grizzlies scored two in the fourth with some help from a pair of Cougars errors. The Northern League's fifth place team scored two more in the fifth and pushed across single runs in the sixth and seventh.
Niwot's Joe Wilson drove in a pair with a two-run triple in the bottom of the seventh. The Grizzlies had just one extra-base hit and four of their nine runs were unearned.
The silver lining for the Cougars is that Northridge entered Tuesday's game 13th in the Class 4A RPI standings. Since Niwot entered in 21st, the loss shouldn't hurt their standing too much. But it does add importance to the Cougars' final two-game series of the regular season.
"We need a win in the worst way just to be safe," McBride said. "Not only that, but you don't want to go into the playoffs on a five-game losing streak. That does nobody any good."
The Cougars will hit the road to play Thompson Valley (9-7, 6-5 Northern) on Thursday and wrap up the regular season with the second game of that series at home on Saturday.
Northridge 9, Niwot 4
At At Niwot H.S.
Northridge (11-6, 7-5) 201 221 1 — 9 10 1
Niwot (7-10, 5-7) 200 000 2 — 4 5 4
W — Logan Chacon. L — Ford Ladd.
Northridge hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kaylor Werner 5-1-1-0, Tayler Aguilar 4-1-1-1, Chance Eben 5-1-1-0, Jake Hammer 4-0-2-2, Giovanni Morfin 3-1-1-1, Trey Vasquez 4-1-2-1, Isidro Arellano Jr. 3-1-0-0, Jared Hinrichs 3-2-1-1, Korbin Reed 4-0-1-1, Chris Decker 0-1-0-0. Totals 35-9-10-7. 2B —Eben.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Joe Wilson 4-0-1-2, Jake Sims 2-1-0-0, Skylar Messinger 3-0-1-0, Ford Ladd 3-0-1-0, Tyler Meek 3-0-1-1, Christian Cloar 1-0-1-1, Hunter Stephens 3-1-0-0, Michael Agado 3-1-0-0, Zach Morgan 3-0-0-0, Joey Neve 0-1-0-0, Trevor Green 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-4-5-4. 3B — Wilson.
Northridge pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Logan Chacon 7-5-4-2-2-4.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Ford Ladd 5-8-7-4-2-6, Griffin Mitchell 2-2-2-1-1-1.