Starting pitcher Brett Matthews delivers for the Boulder Collegians Thursday at Scott Carpenter Park.
Starting pitcher Brett Matthews delivers for the Boulder Collegians Thursday at Scott Carpenter Park. (Kira Vos / For the Daily Camera)

As the defending Rocky Mountain Baseball League regular season champions, the Sterling Xpress are by default the measuring stick that everyone else in the league is looking to.

That includes the Boulder Collegians, who have already climbed the rungs of the ladder in the early stages of 2017 and shown they are once again going to be a force.

Neck and neck in the current standings, the Xpress gained the upper hand on Thursday at Scott Carpenter Park with a 13-9, home run-powered win just a few days after the teams split a doubleheader up in Sterling.

The Collegians were the more through-the-lineup consistent, getting 11 hits from six players combined, but the top-heavy Xpress hitting attack produced four homers and 14 total hits off an array of Collegians hurlers.

"They swing the bats well and they have a good offensive team, and I also think we didn't have our best stuff on the mound tonight," said head coach Haas Pratt, whose team is now 7-3 heading to Laramie for three weekend games against the Colts. "When you score nine, you should win a ball game. Our approach at the plate was outstanding and I wouldn't change much at all. But we can't do what we did on the mound and expect to win."

"It's been nice seeing the team rally in some of the late innings, and here we just missed it," said former Heritage High player Billy Moreland, now at Northern Colorado and in his first year with the summer club. "It's been interesting because we've had either real low-scoring games or real high-scoring games. Our pitching and our offense just need to start working together at the right times."


One needs only to look at the past two games to see what Moreland was talking about. Wednesday night in another home contest, the Collegians ground out a 3-2 win over the Denver Cougars on the strength of a late Conor Thane home run, one of a couple rallies this year that general manager Matt Jensen said the team has just not been able to come up with in past seasons.

Thursday, the hosts kept battling again after getting down 4-1 at one point. Moreland's three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth capped a five-run inning that gave BoCo their only lead of the game.

It was a short-lived lead, at that. With the top of the order coming up for Sterling in the fifth, the first five men reached and four of them scored to regain a 8-6 advantage, and Sterling answered every Collegians threat.

The Xpress top four hitters went 12-for-20 with 10 runs scored and nine RBI, helping them improve to 6-3.

The Collegians may have a couple late additions, but for the most part the roster is all set. One of the final pieces to the puzzle was Jon Schafer of Division I Santa Clara, and he introduced himself to the club with a second-inning solo shot in his first at-bat.

Owen Reynolds (Lamar Community College) had three hits and drove in two runs to supply another late charge for the Collegians, but three early double plays kept the Collegians from fully breaking out.

The team will stay up in Laramie this weekend, which will provide an excellent opportunity to build on the chemistry they've already created. After all, the roster is almost entirely new.

"We're pretty much all here now so it'll be exciting to see what we do," Moreland said.

"We need to go to Laramie and take care of business," Pratt said. "It'll be nice to spend some time up there. We have a good group of guys that mesh well and I think they'll try and have some fun."

Adam Dunivan: or

Sterling XPress 13, Boulder Collegians 9

At Scott Carpenter Park

Sterling (6-3)200 242 012 — 13 14 0

Boulder (7-3)010 500 030 — 9 11 1

W — Cahill. L — Stevens.

Collegians hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Messinger 3-0-0-0, Rawlings 4-1-2-0, Myers 3-1-0-0, Lee 5-1-2-0, Schafer 4-2-1-1, Linahan 3-2-1-2, Moreland 4-2-2-4, Reynolds 4-0-3-2, Thane 4-0-0-0. 2B — Rawlings, Moreland. HR —Schafer, Moreland. SB —Myers, Lee.

Collegians pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mathews 4-4-6-6-4-2, Stevens 1-2-2-2-1-0, Johnson 1-3-2-2-0-0, Heath 2-1-1-1-1-1, Linde 1-4-2-2-0-3.