In his coaching debut for the Boulder Collegians, Haas Pratt saw on Wednesday night a lot of good things from the new players on the team's roster at Scott Carpenter Park.
But when it came down to it, team veterans Spencer Ibarra and Jaron Balman were the highlights-and-hustle characters that Pratt hopes the team molds itself after as the season goes on.
The Collegians dropped their official season opener to the Arvada Colts, 12-9 — the first game of a doubleheader at Scott Carpenter Park on Wednesday — but Balman and Ibarra did a little bit of everything in the field and at the plate.
Both hit no-doubt home runs as part of a good offensive outing, Ibarra (Ohio University) had a diving catch in the fifth inning and an outfield assist in the seventh, and Balman showed his speed scoring from second base on an infield grounder in addition to making a tough catch near the wall early on in the loss.
"They really showed, 'hey, this is how we play here', for sure," Pratt said. "The way they have gone about their business, you like seeing that. They're a couple of guys who give us a veteran presence ... veteran guys sometimes have the tendency to just go through the motions, but I don't see that in them."
Offensively, the Collegians looked the part of a group of guys coming off their college seasons having seen a lot of pitches. They exploded for eight runs in the first two innings — Balman's two-run blast in the second capping that hot start.
Despite getting runners on in four of the final five innings, however, the Collegians went scoreless until Ibarra's homer in the sixth.
By then the Colts, a perennial contender in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Baseball League, had found their sticks, too. Starting pitcher Hayden Davey (Dodge City Community College) ran into trouble in the third, and Brock Timothy (Colorado Mesa) allowed four runs in the fifth to swing the score in favor of the visitors.
Six walks and three errors contributed to the Colts getting back in the game.
"I was pleased with the offensive side of the game, and we were putting pressure on their defense throughout," Pratt said. "Defensively, we could have and should have been out of a lot of innings, and we just need to command the strike zone a little more. That killed us in this one, not pitching to early contact."
"We're getting that team bond pretty fast I think, and that's good," Balman, a Frederick grad who now plays for New Mexico State, added. "The bats kept us in this one, and you know it's early and there are going to be some jitters (defensively)."
Already a full dugout, the team will be getting several more players over the coming weeks as college squads get eliminated from postseason play. Pratt said he hopes that keeps everyone on their toes and wanting success.
"We're going to have a big team, and we're going to make sure no one gets lost. Everyone is going to get their opportunity," Pratt said.
Arvada Colts 12, Boulder Collegians 9
At Scott Carpenter Park
Colts 205 140 0 — 12 10 2
Collegians 350 001 0 — 9 10 3
W — Morgan. L — Brock Timothy.
Colts hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Morgan 4-2-0-0, Porras 4-1-2-1, Huntley 5-1-4-3, Barry 3-2-0-1, Geiger 3-1-1-1, Harris 4-1-1-1, Phillips 3-1-0-0, Peterson 3-2-1-2, Klava 3-1-1-0. Totals 32-12-10-9.
Collegians hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Spencer Ibarra 4-2-1-1, Jeremy Taylor 3-2-1-0, Jake Vasquez 4-2-3-1, Jaron Balman 4-2-1-2, Conor Behrens 4-0-1-1, Carl Koga 4-0-0-2, Grant Gamble 3-0-1-0, Cole Patterson 3-1-1-0, Max Laney 3-0-1-0. Totals 32-9-10-7.
Colts pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Robinson 4-8-8-7-1-3, Morgan 1-0-0-0-0-1, Ware 2-2-1-1-0-1.
Collegians pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hayden Davey 2.2-5-7-5-4-5, Brock Timothy 3.1-4-5-4-2-1, Connor Cremers 1-1-0-0-0-1.