BOULDER — Maybe the Boulder Panthers should ask their coach Tim Kupfner to take a few more practice days off.
After taking the 4th of July weekend off — including Monday — the Panthers didn't do much leading in to their first game of the Boulder NIT against the Salina Falcons on Wednesday at Scott Carpenter Park.
They played pretty flawless baseball.
Boulder avenged an earlier loss to the Kansas-based team — 9-1 at a tournament in Kansas last month — with a 8-0 shutout to start the tournament with a bang.
"It was nice to come out, they probably felt a little cocky, and set a tone early on," said shortstop Cooper Moore, who drove in four runs in the five inning rout. "We got after them and beat them in five, and that's what it is all about."
The Panthers went right to work against Salina, which was coming off an eight inning loss to Rapid City in Pool A in the game prior to their game against Boulder.
Ben Davis led off the game with a walk and was immediately followed by Brendan Van Haute's Texas-leaguer single. It set the table for Moore, who ripped the first pitch he saw from Nash Johnson down the third base line for a bases clearing triple.
"Our bats were pretty hot today and hopefully we can keep that rolling for the next couple of days," said Moore, whose team played Game 2 against the team from Billings, Montana in the nightcap. "You can really see that, if you follow us throughout the year, once a couple of kids start hitting, everyone seems to get hot and you don't want to be the guy to get out, you want to keep it rolling."
Six of the nine hitters in the Panthers line-up recorded hits, and Boulder matched its three-run first with three more in the second inning. Mason Hitz led off with a double and was plated on Van Haute's single. Moore singled to center and the lead grew to 6-0.
It was more than enough for Davis, who had his entire arsenal of pitches working, took advantage of a huge strike zone and kept the Falcons hitters off-balance.
"I was locating some pitches early on and got the slider going later in the game and the change-up started working too, which has kind of been my weakness at times," said Davis, who gave up just two hits and struck out six. "Getting that early run support was awesome ... it's just confidence and you are willing to take a chance with a pitch, knowing you've got a lead.
"You can pitch with confidence and way more relaxed."
The only threat the Falcons mustered was in the second inning. With runners at second and third and just one out, Davis got Kody Berry to fly out to shallow center and then struck out Brooks Garretson to end the threat.
Boulder Purple 8, Salina Falcons 0
At Scott Carpenter Park
Salina 000 00 — 0 2 2
Boulder 331 01 — 8 10 0
W — Ben Davis. L — Nash Johnson.
Salina hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Nash Johnson 2-0-0-0, Brik Thompson 2-0-0-0, Justin Duong 0-0-0-0, Gleason Williams 2-0-0-0, Bryce Banks 2-0-0-0, Tanner Thaxton 2-0-1-0, Garrett Campion 2-0-1-0, Kody Berry 2-0-0-0, Brooks Garretson 2-0-0-0, Kale Stover 1-0-0-0. Totals 17-0-2-0.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Ben Davis 2-2--0-0, Brendan Van Haute 3-2-2-1, Aiden Chandler 3-0-0-0, Cooper Moore 3-1-2-4, Derek Cunningham 3-0-0-0, Jacob Katz 2-1-1-1, Jackson Dinkel 3-1-2-1, Mason Hitz 3-1-2-1, Preston Stansel 2-0-1-0. Totals 24-8-10-8. 2B — Hitz, Dinkel. 3B — Moore. SB — Katz 2, Van Haute.
Salina pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Johnson 4.1-10-8-5-2-2.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Davis 5-2-0-0-0-6.