LONGMONT — An undeniably talented club, the Northridge baseball team also has a knack for winning close games and coming from behind to pull off improbable upsets.
With that combination of innate abilities, it's no wonder the Grizzlies entered Friday's game undefeated in Northern League play despite having faced several of the conference's best teams. Winning close, winning late and winning big through the season's first three weeks, the Grizzlies have also risen to No. 2 in the latest CHSAANow.com poll.
Despite the Grizzlies being up their usual tricks on Thursday, the Silver Creek Raptors countered with their ace and held off a late rally to win 2-1 at home and deal Class 4A's second-ranked team its first Northern League loss of the season.
"It took an entire team effort and we really had to push through it because that is a really good baseball team," Silver Creek junior Travis Bicknell said. "We're really, really happy about this one. Everybody was so hyped and we all wanted to win this game so we're glad we could pull it out. We're doing pretty well in the conference but this is one that we really needed if we're going to take this thing as far as we want to."
Coming off a series split against rival Longmont, the Raptors (8-5, 7-2 Northern) were determined to win their first game against the Grizzlies (10-2, 6-1 Northern) with junior Cole Winn on the mound. Winn gave up a run on two hits in the top of the first inning but settled down quickly after that, allowing zero hits and striking out 10 in his final four innings.
After the Grizzlies scored first, the Raptors responded in the bottom of the inning when Cade Call doubled down the left-field line and Max Browne scored from first base, sliding in just ahead of a would-be tag at home plate. After Winn and Grizzlies junior went pitch-for-pitch for three innings, the Raptors pulled ahead in the bottom of the sixth when Bicknell doubled on a long fly ball that scored Call.
Raptors senior Nick Gambirasi, who pitched just four innings before Thursday's game, picked up the win after entering in the sixth and allowing just two hits in two innings of relief. With the bases loaded and two out in the top of the seventh, he got Northridge's Trey Vasquez to fly out to center fielder George Ramirez to end them.
"Mainly what I just tried to think about is getting it over the plate and leave it to my defense," Gambirasi said. "I haven't thrown that many innings but our defense has been great all season and I knew they would continue to make plays for me."
The two teams will play the second game of their season series at Northridge on Saturday. First pitch will be at Noon.
Silver Creek 2, Northridge 1
At Silver Creek H.S.
Northridge (10-2, 6-1) 100 000 0 — 1 4 2
Silver Creek (8-5, 7-2) 100 000 0 — 2 5 2
W — Gambirasi. L — Eben.
Northridge hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Werner 2-1-1-0, Vasquez 3-0-0-0, Aguilar 3-0-1-1, Eben 3-0-0-0, Morfin 3-0-0-0, Lombardelli 2-0-0-0, Frye 3-0-0-0, Miranda 2-0-0-0, Hammer 1-0-1-0, Crespin 0-0-0-0, Decker 3-0-1-0. Totals 26-1-4-1. 2B — Hammer. SB — Werner.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Ramirez 3-0-0-0, Winn 3-0-0-0, Gregory 0-0-0-0, Browne 3-1-0-0, Call 3-1-1-1, Rich 3-0-0-0, Bicknell 3-0-1-1, Kramer 3-0-1-0, Smedley 1-0-1-0, Elting 1-0-1-0, Olinger 0-0-0-0, Gambirasi 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-2-5-2. 2B — Elting, Bicknell, Call. SB — Call.
Northridge pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Eben 6-5-2-0-0-4.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Winn 5-2-1-1-1-12, Gambirasi 2-2-0-0-1-0.