BOULDER — No one is going to sit down after looking at Thursday's box score and think the Boulder Panthers baseball team awoke from a slumber offensively against Mitch Trenka and the Monarch Coyotes.
But, thanks in big part to a senior veteran who bided his time in the dugout the entire afternoon only to come up with the biggest swing of the day for Boulder, the Panthers may have gotten that much needed "spark" of a victory with a 2-1 decision at Scott Carpenter Park.
Mason Hitz, so appropriately named for a baseball player but known more for his pitching, came on as a pinch hitter to lead off the seventh inning of a 1-1 game and delivered Boulder's first home run of the season — an opposite-field wall scraper but a celebration-inducing hit nonetheless.
The hit capped a well-played game on both sides, and a pitchers' duel that started with Boulder's Jackson Dinkel and Monarch's Mitch Trenka battling wits.
"It's huge after two tough games we thought we should have won. We had the energy the whole game, and we didn't find the hitting until the last inning but it came around," said Hitz, one of 12 seniors on the BHS squad. "This team has really good chemistry, we just have to find the spark and hopefully that was it."
Boulder batters have done their part to get on base in getting to 6-4 on the season, but hitting with two outs and runners on has been a struggle. That continued early on against Trenka, as Boulder stranded runners in the second, third and fourth innings after Monarch had gained a 1-0 lead.
But Boulder's Dinkel and later on Ben Davis did a stellar job inducing outs, giving Boulder a chance to get something — anything — going in the late innings.
The Panthers broke through in the sixth frame when Aiden Chandler was hit by a pitch and Max Bajza walked to lead things off, and Chandler eventually moved home on a passed ball with one out. They couldn't get the go-ahead run home that inning, but it set up well when Hitz grabbed a bat as the first batter of the seventh against MoHi reliever Tyler Seebaum.
"I just wanted to hit the ball solid," Hitz said. "Just trying to find a way, if I saw a strike I was going to hit it hard."
"It's been the same all year, just we've been playing great defense and getting great pitching and just haven't been getting those key hits, the timely hits," Boulder head coach Carmen Rivas said, his team 1-2 in the Front Range League. "We've been working on it, and it's good to see Henry (Ryan) and Mason come though. They've been grinding at it, trying to prove some things to me as their new coach. We're playing good baseball, and I think our best baseball is ahead of us."
Monarch (3-7, 1-3) had five hits in the game, two off the bat of Ben Coatney who also scored the Coyotes' only run. Landon Sibley had the run-scoring hit, the third of three consecutive singles in the second inning.
Trenka only allowed one hit but walked four and hit two batters to vault his pitch count.
The Coyotes will host Greeley West on Saturday, while Boulder plays host to Fort Collins.
Boulder 2, Monarch 1
At Scott Carpenter Park
Monarch (3-7, 1-3) 010 000 0 — 1 5 0
Boulder (6-4, 1-2) 000 001 1 — 2 2 0
W — Ben Davis. L — Tyler Seebaum.
Monarch hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Tyler Seebaum 2-0-0-0, CJ Schmanski 3-0-0-0, Connor Flynn 3-0-1-0, Ben Cole 3-0-0-0, Luke Martin 3-0-0-0, Ben Coatney 3-1-2-0, Mitch Trenka 3-0-1-0, Cooper Koepping 0-0-0-0, Landon Sibley 3-0-1-1, Nico Hartojo 0-0-0-0, Connor Crouch 2-0-0-0. Totals 25-1-5-1. 2B —Coatney.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Dana Sullivan 3-0-0-0, Derek Cunningham 2-0-0-0, Aiden Chandler 1-1-0-0, Max Bajza 2-0-0-0, Jacob Katz 0-0-0-0, Ben Davis 2-0-0-0, Alex Arvizu 1-0-0-0, Brendan Van Haute 1-0-0-0, Henry Ryan 2-0-1-0, Cooper Moore 2-0-0-0, Mason Hitz 1-1-1-1, Liam Yuill 2-0-0-0. Totals 19-2-2-1. HR —Hitz. SB —Chandler, Ryan.
Monarch pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Trenka 6-1-1-0-4-4, Seebaum 0-1-1-1-0-0.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jackson Dinkel 4.2-4-1-1-1-7, Davis 2.1-1-0-0-0-1.