NIWOT — The Centaurus baseball team was in the Class 4A playoffs last year for a reason, and it had much to do with the roster that is still intact in 2017.
Yet, since eating a forfeit loss from early in the season against Vista PEAK — a game the Warriors dominated — Centaurus has had trouble shaking some things off including their own misfortunes of not hitting with runners on.
Against Niwot this week, however, that was not a problem and on Saturday it led to CHS' first win in a while. Everyone in the lineup produced a run in some fashion at the Niwot field, and the Warriors were good for a 16-6 Northern League win that may have finally ended some tension.
"If you look at our numbers, we've really left a lot of guys on base so far this season, and today in those situations we really worked on getting our pitch," said senior Balin Jessip, who had two hits, walked twice and scored twice in the marathon. "We were disciplined up there, and we didn't chase anything we didn't like. We got a decent amount of two-strike hits, too.
"The main part is we felt confident at the plate."
Jessip saw his teammates finally come alive against the Cougars on Thursday in a 9-7 loss, but in the prior seven games they had scored but 10 runs. On Saturday, Joe Milano's second-inning blast that thumped off the scoreboard in left field resounded even more in the following innings.
The Warriors posted 12 hits including five extra-base knocks, taking over the lead in the third inning and sealing the contest with a six-run seventh. They also made Niwot pay for its pitchers running up counts as all but one of Centaurus' eight walks drawn ended up crossing home plate at some point later on.
With good production from Eric Gambon (2-for-4, three runs), Jeff DeBouvier (3-for-4, four RBI) and Milano, Centaurus moved to 3-9 but more importantly got the monkey off their back in the Northern League after dropping their first seven conference contests.
"When Joe hit that one out (in the second) it really lifted us up after those two runs they shouldn't have scored in the first inning," Jessip said. "We knew the plan hasn't changed, that we needed to pile it on."
Even though they got a win out of the series, Niwot head coach Craig McBride felt like the Cougars "took a step back" after playing well down in Arizona during spring break. On Saturday, the Cougars (6-7, 3-5) were led by Skyler Messinger's three hits and Trevor Green's pair of doubles that led to three RBI, but on the whole Niwot was mistake-prone.
The Cougars had six errors and also left a total of 11 on base. They had runners at second and third with one out in both the third and sixth innings but failed to score, and again had chances to add to their tally in the fifth and seventh frames but left the bases loaded.
"We played like crap, that's all I can say. It's just discouraging because it's a couple steps back from where we were," McBride said. "Centaurus hit the ball well and they took advantage of every pitch we gave them to hit."
Both teams have three league series remaining. Niwot has home-and-home's against Mountain View, Thompson Valley and Longmont, while Centaurus finishes with Greeley Central, Longmont and Northridge.
Centaurus 16, Niwot 6
At Niwot HS
Centaurus014 122 6 — 16 12 3
Niwot200 030 1 — 6 7 6
W — Joe Milano. L — Hunter Stephens. S — Trevor Erickson.
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Anthony Losasso 3-2-0-0, Trevor Erickson 4-2-1-1, Eric Gambon 4-3-2-2, Joe Milano 4-3-2-2, Greg Smith 0-0-0-0, Balin Jessip 3-2-2-1, Jeff DeBouvier 4-2-3-4, Mac Post 4-1-1-1, Randell Blare 3-0-1-1, Lucas DiSabato 3-1-0-0. Totals 32-16-12-12. 2B —Gambon, Milano, Post. 3B —DeBouvier. HR —Milano. SB —Erickson, Gambon, DeBouvier.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Jacob Sims 2-0-1-0, Aiden Galloway 2-1-0-0, Joey Neve 4-1-0-0, Skyler Messinger 4-2-3-1, Trevor Green 4-1-2-3, Hunter Stephens 2-0-0-0, Cam Hassert 1-0-0-0, Colton Goldfarb 3-0-0-0, Chandler Snead 0-0-0-0, Zach Kinnison 2-1-0-1, Jordan Wills 3-0-0-0, Joey DesEnfants 3-0-1-0. Totals 30-6-7-5. 2B — Messinger, Green 2. 3B —Messinger.
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Milano 4.2-6-5-5-4-10, Erickson 2.1-1-1-0-3-2.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Stephens 2.1-3-3-1-3-1, Wills 3.1-4-7-2-3-0, Kinnison 1.1-5-6-6-2-2.