ARVADA — Former Erie pitcher Kyle Leahy found it quite difficult as a true freshman to find innings on a seemingly gargantuan Colorado Mesa University baseball roster.
In fact, nearly half of his 9 2/3 innings pitched came in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game back on May 14 against Colorado-State Pueblo, a 9-5 victory for the Mavericks in which Leahy got a no-decision.
While that game may have been one of the highlights of his season, Leahy is embracing the chance to throw some good innings this summer for the Superior Rough Riders of the Rocky Mountain Baseball League.
As someone who has shown big-game potential, Leahy was up to the task of pitching the Rough Riders past a tough Arvada Colts lineup on Friday at Long Lake Ranch, going six innings in Game 1 and earning a 3-2 win to keep his team on top of the league standings.
The lanky right-hander looked stronger the later it got into the evening, and wiggled out of jams throughout the game — something he said he desperately needed with his game action limited quite a bit this spring.
"It's nice to get innings because I can work on what I've been working on all year at Mesa in (bullpen sessions) and actually get to work it in games," said Leahy, who was 2-0 with a 7.45 earned-run average for CMU. "With school, it's all about doing what you can when you're called on. For me, that was once every little while in late innings, until the end when I had 15 minutes to warm up for the conference championship.
"I was happy getting out of some situations and it's good to be able to work through stuff. Runners can get on but you can't let them score."
Leahy was the right answer for the Rough Riders against a Colts team that finds itself consistently near the top of the standings in the bid for the National Baseball Congress World Series (league champion gets an automatic bid).
He got in a bit of a bind early with the bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of the first inning, but induced a fly out and a ground out to end the frame unscathed.
Again in the third having allowed one run in, Leahy allowed Colts baserunners to get to second and third with just one out but regained control of things with a popup and strikeout — one of five strikeouts on the evening.
Jacob Nelson pitched the seventh and left the tying run on third base.
"The way he's going, and what we're doing with him during the week, I think it's going to set him up to get a lot of innings in the spring," said Rough Riders coach Chad Povich, whose team continues to play excellent defense. "He's got a great mindset, and he just goes after guys. He's going to find ways to figure things out and get the job done."
"I didn't have my best stuff, but that's good because you're not always going to have it all going," Leahy added.
The Rough Riders broke through on the scoreboard in the fourth inning when Fairview grad Jake Thoning singled and then scored on Josh Peterson's double. Thoning was 1-for-3 in the first game in addition to making a couple of solid plays at shortstop.
Peterson, who went to Ralston Valley and now plays at North Georgia, had two hard-hit doubles and scored both times. The Rough Riders moved to 11-3 and are now approaching the midway part of their schedule.
Superior Rough Riders 3, Arvada Colts 2
At Long Lake Ranch
Rough Riders 000 201 0 — 3 6 0
Colts 000 110 0 — 2 8 2
W — Leahy. L — Robinson.
Rough Riders hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Ayala 3-0-0-0, Adkins 4-0-0-0, Thoning 3-1-1-0, Peterson 3-2-2-1, Tarantola 3-0-3-1, Bryniarski 2-0-0-1, Deherrera 3-0-0-0, Baumgartner 3-0-0-0, Peeveyhouse 3-0-0-0. Totals 27-3-6-3. 2B —Peterson 2, Tarantola.
Rough Riders pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Leahy 6-5-2-2-2-5, Nelson 1-1-0-0-0-2.