LONGMONT — A season that began extraordinarily well has since gone off the rails a bit for the Longmont baseball team, which has spent the first three weeks of April mired in an ongoing rough patch.
After jumping up to the top spot in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A rankings, the Trojans had lost six of their last seven games heading into Saturday's battle with Centaurus for the second game of the teams' Northern League series. Longmont needed a big win to, something dramatic or convincing, to snap themselves out of it.
The Trojans got what they needed.
With runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Trojans junior third baseman Matt Zamudio hit a walk-off single to beat the Warriors 5-4 and jolt the Trojans back into the win column.
"We needed this one," Zamudio said. "I feel like we were all there today and we were all more locked in than usual. It's a good win for the team. In the eighth, I was just looking for a fastball, something I could drive to right field. I took a swing and it went our way for once."
Before Saturday's loss, the Warriors (7-10, 4-8 Northern) had won five straight including a 6-1 victory over Longmont (7-6, 6-6 Northern) in the series opener on Thursday. The Warriors scored first against Longmont on a two-run home run by senior Eric Gambon, who went 2 for 4 at the plate to pace a Warriors lineup that doubled four times and averages seven runs a game.
After the home run, Longmont starter Dagin Renck settled in to allow just two more runs while striking out nine batters over 7 2/3 innings. He struck out the first two batters in the top of the eighth before hitting his pitch limit and handing the ball over to Avery Peterson for the final out.
"Early on, I was beside myself because I was hitting my spots but the kid still hit one off the wall out there (the school beyond the right-field fence)," Renck said. "Once I settled in and started mixing it up a little bit, pitching backwards, it started to get better the second and third time through the lineup. This was basically a must-win for us and it's great to get it against a good hitting lineup like theirs."
In the bottom of the eighth, Hayden Carson led off with a single and was replaced by courtesy runner Zach Trosper. Chris Gumeson reached on a bunt single and Kascen Deeter bunted the runners over to second and third before Zamdudio's game-winning hit.
Longmont will host Fort Morgan at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Centaurus will play at Northridge at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
Longmont 5, Centaurus 4 (8)
At Longmont H.S.
Centaurus (7-10, 4-8) 202 000 00 — 4 8 0
Longmont (7-6, 6-6) 200 200 01 — 5 14 0
W — Peterson. L — DiSabato.
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Losasso 4-0-0-0, Erickson 3-2-2-0, Gambon 4-1-2-2, Milano 3-0-0-1, Varga 0-0-0-0, Jessip 4-1-1-0, DeBouvier 3-0-1-0, Post 3-0-2-1, Koch 3-0-0-0, DiSabato 3-0-0-0, Blare 0-0-0-0. Totals 30-4-8-4. 2B — Gambon, Jessip, Erickson, Post. HR — Gambon (1 on in 1st). SB — Gambon, Erickson.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Zamudio 4-0-2-2, B. Renck 4-1-3-0, Befus 4-0-1-0, Rodriguez 0-0-0-0, Hassler 4-1-2-1, Peterson 4-0-1-1, D. Renck 4-0-0-0, Cox 0-1-0-0, Carson 4-0-1-0, Trosper 0-1-0-0, Gumeson 4-0-1-0, Deeter 4-1-1-1, Rulon 0-0-0-0. Totals 36-5-12-5. 2B — Deeter, Hassler. SB — Cox, Peterson.
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — DiSabato 7.1-14-5-5-1-0.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — D. Renck 7.2-8-4-4-1-9, Peterson 0.1-0-0-0-0-0.