LONGMONT — After pitching all of five innings in 2017, Mead junior Caleb Ayers has emerged as a consistent strikes-seeker in 2018 and has been one of the many bright spots for a Mavericks team looking to break through in the Tri-Valley League.
On Saturday, Ayers was as detail-attentive as he has been at any point so far this season, but the Mead offense could not pick him up in a 2-0 loss to Roosevelt. The Roughriders pulled off the TVL series sweep with a solid combo effort from Braeden Saya and Ethan Eldridge, who limited Mead to four singles and some rather loud outs to improve to 9-2 themselves.
Rarely this season has the Mead offense been unproductive, and Ayers has benefitted with plenty of run support in his previous three starts (2-0 record with one no-decision). But after Roosevelt pulled off a dramatic 4-3 win over MHS this past Thursday, the Mavericks came out flat and threatened just one time.
"All the physical aspects of the game, I really thought we were perfect — our defense was solid and Caleb threw a gem," said Mead head coach Randy Click, whose team dropped to 7-3 and 3-3 in the TVL. "Offensively, we only had one strikeout, so we put the ball in play but things just didn't fall. They just came out flat, and it just shows how much energy plays a (role) in baseball.
"You can do everything right physically, but if you don't have the energy and just kind of go through the motions, it leaves the door open."
Ayers was dealing through three innings, allowing just two base runners while striking out four. In the fourth, though, he allowed a one-out single before hitting Tannor Shuffler with an off-speed pitch. Bo Slaymaker then doubled down the right field line to score one, and two batters later an infield single off the bat of Taige Long provided RHS with the only runs they would turn out to need.
Other than that fourth inning, only one batter got past first base for Roosevelt as Ayers pitched a complete game and allowed just five hits.
"Caleb was committed to keeping his pitch count down and not getting into three-ball counts, and he was trusting the defense," Click said. "We've worked with him on getting ground balls. He has five pitches in his arsenal, and that helps him tremendously. His off-speed is real filthy."
Mead by no means was twisted and turned at the plate, but the Mavs did go down in order in four separate innings, including the sixth when a one-out single from Brady Carstens was negated when he was caught stealing.
Otherwise, the Mavericks had a two-on, two-out situation in the second inning that Saya was able to navigate through by way of a fielder's choice.
Carstens had two hits, while Benjamin Borrego and Ryan McDaniel each scratched out base hits.
Mead's next league series is against front-running Windsor, but the Mavericks will look to get back on track at home against Fort Lupton on Monday.
Roosevelt 2, Mead 0
At Mead HS
Roosevelt000 200 0 — 2 5 1
Mead000 000 0 — 0 4 0
W — Saya. L — Caleb Ayers. S — Eldridge.
Roosevelt hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Poley 3-0-1-0, Grim 2-0-0-0, Sterling 3-1-1-0, Shuffler 2-1-0-0, Slaymaker 3-0-2-1, Zink 3-0-0-0, Long 3-0-1-1, Crook 2-0-0-0, Yebra 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-2-5-2. 2B —Slaymaker. SB —Sterling.
Mead hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Brett Boaz 3-0-0-0, Greyson Young 3-0-0-0, Nick Jacobs 2-0-0-0, Brady Carstens 3-0-2-0, Tanner Leise 3-0-0-0, Brady Veltien 2-0-0-0, Benjamin Borrego 3-0-1-0, Caleb Ayers 2-0-0-0, John Edwards 1-0-0-0, Ryan McDaniel 1-0-1-0, Lucas Hale 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-0-4-0. SB —Hale.
Roosevelt pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Saya 5-3-0-0-2-1, Eldridge 2-1-0-0-0-0-0.
Mead pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Ayers 7-5-2-2-1-5.