BOULDER — With intentions of winning the Boulder National Invitational 19U Tournament, the NoCo Roughnecks used Thursday's pool play finale as an opportunity to save some pitching for bracket play.
Already secured in the event's 16-team playoff bracket by virtue of going 2-0 on Wednesday, the Roughnecks — a team which features players from all over the northern Front Range corridor — didn't want to show their hand at all judging by a 19-2 loss on Thursday to the Post 320 Stars from Rapid City.
The Stars no doubt put a good game together in all facets of play at Fairview High School — "we got our butts kicked today," Frederick graduate Bryce Shirley said after — but the Roughnecks will be looking forward to having some good starting pitching for the weekend.
That begins with Skyline graduate Nate Higgins and includes Thompson Valley High's Jake Hewson and Bailey Porter — three of Colorado's better arms at the Class 4A high school level.
The Roughnecks are relatively young as an organization, but Shirley — who will be playing for Western Nebraska after finishing off a good season for the Warriors — is among a group that thinks the rise is real.
Their draw includes several players from Erie but also reaches out to Fort Morgan and of course Loveland with the TVHS Eagles and Mountain View. The Roughnecks also have a 17U team playing in the BNIT and a collegiate team playing in the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League.
Shirley is excited to be part of it, and he hopes the BNIT really shows what the team is about.
"We're up against some of the top teams out there, and they showed us what they're made of today," Shirley said of the Stars, one of the more traditional summer powerhouses in the region. "But I have to say, watch out for the Roughnecks because we're on the rise and we're coming.
"I think we showed some things (Wednesday) and opened some people's eyes. We have weapons."
Another strong-armed player in the area, that being recent Longmont graduate Dagin Renck, helped the team get a win on Wednesday. Shirley has had a good tournament so far, too, and he continued his strong batting with a double and a sacrifice fly to help the Roughnecks offense.
After plating two runs in the bottom of the first inning, however, the Roughnecks ran out of highlights for the most part. With tournament mercy rules in place and the team not wanting to waste a "rotation" pitcher, Post 320 managed to put the game away in four innings thanks in part to 12 bases on balls and three hit batters.
"We played NoCo Roughnecks baseball (Wednesday) and today I think we just ran out of gas a little bit," Shirley said. "I think we'll be refreshed (Friday), so whoever we get, we're going to give them (a game).
"Nate is one of those go-to guys on the hill. Hopefully we'll make the plays for him."
The BNIT continues with first-round playoffs Friday at satellite fields in Golden (Golden High School), Northglenn (Northglenn), Boulder (Fairview), Broomfield (Holy Family), Lafayette (Peak to Peak) and Louisville (Monarch). Consolation games will also transpire so as to give each team four guaranteed contests.
Sunday's semifinals and finals will be played at Scott Carpenter Park in Boulder.
Post 320 Stars 19, NoCo Roughnecks 2
At Fairview HS
Post 320318 7 — 19 13 0
Roughnecks200 0 — 2 3 2
L — Sackett.
Roughnecks hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Norsen 1-1-0-0, Ma. Berg 2-1-1-0, Sims 2-0-0-0, Mi. Berg 2-0-1-1, Shirley 1-0-1-1, Nelson 2-0-0-0, Mayers 1-0-0-0, Wilkinson 1-0-0-0, Higgins 1-0-0-0, Kage 1-0-0-0, Hammil 0-0-0-0. Totals 14-2-3-2. 2B — Shirley.
Roughnecks pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sackett 1.1-1-4-4-5-2, Schroeder 0.2-0-2-2-4-1, Mayers 0.2-6-6-6-2-1, Nelson 1-5-7-5-1-0, Kage 0.1-1-0-0-0-1.