AURORA — The Vista PEAK Bison baseball team rarely knew what was coming at them on Saturday afternoon.
Centaurus' Joe Milano was pitching backwards at times, and once the sun started to peak through the clouds and warm the day as well as his arm, the Dodge City Community College-bound senior was simply blasting the fastball past the VP hitters.
Settling in after the first inning behind their pitcher's efforts, the Warriors were rather dominant in their second win of the season, 8-4, under the direction of new head coach Doug Kinney.
Milano had 13 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of work, and the CHS lineup was top-to-bottom solid in their first real test of the season.
"This was definitely more intensified today, and it really helped me stay focused and have more drive to pitch and throw strikes, give it to my defense behind me," Milano said after striking out six Bison looking. "Inning after inning, I just kept feeling better and better. I felt like I could throw it by them."
"This one tested us physically and mentally, and we didn't let down," Kinney said, his team set for a Tuesday game at Sierra prior to a home-and-home against Mountain View to start Northern League play. "The kids are sticking together and staying engaged. One through nine in our lineup, we feel like there's not really any holes right now. We're just playing solid."
The Warriors on Thursday crushed Englewood 23-0 in their opener, a game that really got tiresome fast for a Centaurus team that lost in the first round of district play last year and hopes for more for their 2017 seniors.
That game did prove worthwhile as far as building confidence for the lineup, and it carried through to Saturday — particularly at the bottom of the order. Centaurus' Nos. 7 through 9 hitters in the lineup — Jeff DeBouvier, Greg Smith and Lucas DiSabato — went a combined 5-for-10 with three runs scored and three RBI.
They were all part of a five-run third inning, a frame capped by a 2-run single off the bat of Balin Jessip, which made it 6-2.
On the flip side, Milano feasted on the bottom of Vista PEAK's order — against him the Nos. 5-9 hitters went 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts.
"It helps to have your 1-through-9 be able to hit the baseball and make things happen, and really the bottom of our order did most of the work today," Milano said.
Because of the pitch count, Milano could not ring up the complete game, but DiSabato came on and struck out the final two batters to get his partner the win and collect a save himself. Those two Bison were also caught in the crosshairs for a called third strike.
"Joe can bring it, and he was hitting his spots when he needed to. Just a great overall effort, a smart effort, from a senior pitcher," said Kinney, a longtime CHS assistant coach who saw his team go without any fielding errors, too.
Centaurus 8, Vista PEAK Prep 4
At Vista PEAK Prep HS
Centaurus 105 001 1 — 8 10 0
Vista PEAK 201 000 1 — 4 4 7
W — Milano. L — Valenzuela. S — DiSabato.
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Losasso 4-1-1-0, Jessip 5-1-1-2, Gambon 3-1-0-0, Erickson 3-1-1-1, Milano 4-0-1-0, Sleppy 0-0-0-0, Post 4-1-1-1, DeBouvier 3-2-2-0, Smith 3-1-2-1, DiSabato 4-0-1-2. Totals 33-8-10-7. 2B —Losasso, DeBouvier. SB —Losasso, DeBouvier.
Vista PEAK hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Augustus 2-2-1-0, Martinez 3-1-1-0, Embury 1-1-0-0, Valenzuela 3-0-0-1, Steele 4-0-2-2, Blackwood 4-0-0-0, Orozco 3-0-0-0, Buckner 2-0-0-0, Wasick 1-0-0-0, Geist-Delgado 2-0-0-0, Cortez 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-4-4-3. 2B — Steele. SB —Augustus, Embury.
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Milano 6.1-4-4-4-4-13, DiSabato 0.2-0-0-0-2-2.
Vista PEAK pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Valenzuela 4-8-6-3-2-1, Wasick 2-1-1-0-1-0, Post 1-1-1-1-1-0.