BOULDER — Hunter Owens arrived for the Fairview baseball team well before Thursday's rivalry game with Boulder. However, the junior first baseman had intentions of making his mark in his first chance to play in the rivalry game against the Panthers.
Entering the game with two home runs and as one of the Knights' leaders in RBI, Owens got two big swings at Scott Carpenter Park that helped put a quick end to a game that, last year, went 14 innings. Owens followed a 3-run home run in the fifth inning with a grand slam in the sixth frame, and the hot-swinging FHS squad managed 14 hits overall in a 16-4 win.
Almost everyone on both sides recalled the wildness of last year's two-games-in-one marathon, which Boulder walked off, 6-5, to claim city bragging rights. Owens was not a part of that game, but he knew how much it stung for his teammates to be on the short end of things.
"We had a bitter taste in our mouth from last year, in that lasted all the way up until this time so we wanted to come out and set the tone," Owens said after his 3-for-5, 7-RBI day that pushed his season batting average to .326. "We came off a tough loss against Mountain Range — and it was a great time to take out our frustrations on a rival."
Fairview moved to 10-5 overall with a big week ahead as it stares down the top 16 in Class 5A RPI, and they did so with an entire lineup that roughed up Boulder's pitching.
Everyone in the order contributed either a run scored or a run driven home, and Danny Sheridan also had a three-hit day out of the No. 2 hole. After scoring a first-inning run with Tyler Carpenter's double off the wall, FHS (6-3 Front Range League) added three more runs in the second inning and pushed that lead to 6-1 in the fourth, chasing BHS starter Jackson Dinkel.
Derek Cunningham hit a towering home run to left field in the bottom of the fourth, but the Knights responded with Owens hitting a no-doubter just to the right of the SCP scoreboard to make it 9-2.
A Teddy Lewitt triple in the sixth began a barrage of base runners for the visitors in the sixth, leading up to Owens' second round-tripper to give him 24 RBI for the year.
"I really felt like I connected well on both of those, and it was nice to just be able to put bat on ball and help the team win," Owens said.
Boulder (8-8, 3-6 FRL) had 10 hits off Carpenter, who has been Fairview's most consistent starter this season and improved to 3-0, but the Panthers had a number of things go awry in addition to leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings.
There were several instances in which the Panthers felt they deserved some breaks on calls, and head coach Carmen Rivas said that seemed to put the team in a disheartened mental state.
But with their current situation — the Panthers entered Thursday No. 32 in RPI (right at the cutoff for potential playoff teams), Rivas said that the next week of games has become all the more crucial.
They will play three games in three days later in the week — playing Rocky Mountain, Fossil Ridge and Horizon to close out the regular slate.
"You always want to win these rivalry games, but we lost because we didn't play very well and Fairview did so I told the boys our main goal has to be finding a way to get in," Rivas said. "We're 32 and we just have to stay there, keep battling to get there. We have to win to get there.
"There were some weird calls and strange situations early in the game that got us out of rhythm. At the end of the day, we needed to square up on hits a couple more times to make it tighter."
Fairview 16, Boulder 4
At Scott Carpenter Park
Fairview (10-5, 6-3)130 237 — 16 14 1
Boulder (8-8, 3-6)001 120 — 4 10 3
W — Tyler Carpenter. L — Jackson Dinkel.
Fairview hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Stone Streeter 4-4-2-0, Danny Sheridan 5-3-3-2, Tyler Carpenter 2-1-1-1, Josh Haensly 0-0-0-0, Hunter Owens 5-2-3-7, Jake Willemsen 4-0-1-1, Teddy Lewitt 4-1-1-1, Cliffy Smith 3-2-2-1, Sam McGill 3-1-0-0, Will Mossa 3-2-1-1. Totals 33-16-14-14. 2B —Sheridan, Carpenter, Smith. 3B —Lewitt. HR —Owens 2.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Dana Sullivan 4-1-1-0, Mason Hitz 4-1-2-1, Aiden Chandler 3-1-1-0, Derek Cunningham 3-1-2-2, Max Bajza 3-0-0-0, Brendan Van Haute 2-0-0-0, Jacob Katz 3-0-1-1, Henry Ryan 2-0-1-0, Cameron Mainland 3-0-2-0. Totals 27-4-10-4. HR —Cunningham.
Fairview pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Carpenter 6-10-4-4-2-8.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jackson Dinkel 3.2-8-6-6-5-4, Ben Davis 1.1-3-3-3-1-1, Cam Mainland 0.1-3-7-2-3-2, Alex Arvizu 0.2-0-0-0-0-1.