LYONS — Kami Puchino's long-awaited debut as head coach of the Longmont Christian baseball team on Tuesday just so happened to come up against a Lyons team that has some pretty large aspirations in 2018.
The Warriors showed they are a team that is going to compete with a lot of opponents, but Lyons' 9-0 home victory could be chalked up to experience out on the varsity diamond coming through in all three phases of play.
The Lions heated up at the plate in their second go-round through the lineup, and Brandon Sanders came in relief to strike out 10 batters in four innings to move Lyons to 2-0 on the season. Defensively, the Lions also went without an error in the field while also taking advantage of just a few spread-out miscues from LCS.
After beating Estes Park rather easily in their first game, the Lions were quick to admit they started off slow against Longmont Christian — a team coming off a 1-16 year and that had not played varsity ball the prior two seasons before that.
But the middle of the LHS lineup got going in the third inning to put the necessary spark in the rest of the team. Leif Klopsen, Justin Lear and Austen Clark combined to go 7-for-9 with six runs and four runs knocked in.
"We were slow-starting and left some people on base, but once we got going we got on a nice roll," Lyons head coach Ken Rosales said after his Lions produced eight hits in all, including three for extra bases. "Leif has already had two real good games this year, and I told him I just hope he doesn't have any slumps because we're going to need him."
"I think we just get impatient with slower pitchers, and once they brought in (reliever Dominic Puchino) we started going," said Klopsen, who was 2-for-4 with a triple. "We just want to go at it. We had solid defense, and just some really good pitching from Brandon Sanders today."
The Lions are packed with seniors this year, and after making the state semifinals in 2017 have a lot riding on the season. Klopsen didn't shy away from calling LHS 'the best team in 2A' and that they are ready for whatever teams throw their way.
Rosales, in his fifth season, knows there are expectations both inside and outside of the dugout. He said his players are doing a solid job at handling the here-and-now before automatically assuming anything.
"We have an ultimate goal that we want, but we can't achieve that without going through all the games, and this was our first league game so we got that off to a good start," Rosales said. "They've been good at realizing we just have to go a game at a time."
For Longmont Christian and Kami Puchino, there is a lot of youth in the group that mustered two hits in Tuesday's game — both against Sanders in the sixth inning. The Warriors started a freshman, Kyle Saunders, and sophomores Dominic Puchino and Rylee Dugan came in relief, as well.
There are no seniors on the LCS roster, but they certainly showed they weren't out there just for grins. Kami Puchino, one of Colorado's first female head coaches in the sport, expects the team to associate itself with playing good fundamental baseball. The Warriors made three errors overall but also turned a double play and saw their pitchers strike out eight Lyons batters overall.
"I have confidence in these players, and as they grow more confident in me and what I'm doing ... I think we're going to be successful," Kami Puchino said.
Despite just two hits, LCS had chances to score runs as they loaded the bases on walks in the third inning and had a runner at second base with one out in the fifth. Sanders, however, was efficient at reducing square contact.
Lyons 9, Longmont Christian 0
At Lyons HS
Longmont Christian000 000 0 — 0 2 3
Lyons102 141 x — 9 8 0
W — Brandon Sanders. L — Kyle Saunders.
Longmont Christian hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kyle Saunders 2-0-0-0, Derik Jepsen 2-0-0-0, Timmy Eldred 2-0-1-0, Dominic Puchino 3-0-1-0, Lee Saunders 3-0-0-0, Ryan Schellenberger 2-0-0-0, Rylee Dugan 2-0-0-0, Tucker Kennedy 1-0-0-0, Christian Hudgins 2-0-0-0, Dustin Willis 1-0-0-0, Caleb Shanafelt 2-0-0-0 . 2B —Puchino.
Lyons hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Joe McCain 4-0-0-0, Leif Klopsen 4-2-2-1, Justin Lear 3-3-3-1, Austen Clark 2-1-2-2, Evan Reeves 4-0-0-0, David Brett 1-1-0-0, Colton Bashor1-0-0-0, Brandon Sanders 0-1-0-0, Drew Cross 2-0-0-0, Keegan Bean 1-0-0-0, Aidan Christiansen 2-0-0-0, Rafael Ruiz 1-1-0-0. 2B — Lear, Clark. 3B —Klopsen. SB —Brett 3, Klopsen, Sanders.
Longmont Christian pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Saunders 3-4-3-1-2-3, Puchino 2-2-5-4-4-5, Dugan 1-2-1-1-1-0.
Lyons pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Clark 3-0-0-0-2-4, Sanders 4-2-0-0-1-10.