BROOMFIELD — Holy Family American Legion A catcher Colin Welsh didn't think the Tigers were the proverbial small fish in a big pond this week at the Boulder NIT.
Though one of the few entrants among the 24 teams fully representing just one school, Welsh firmly believed Holy Family had the opportunity to beat every team it played on its home field in pool play.
Truth be told, he wasn't that far off, and after splitting games against two club teams on Thursday — Holy Family beat Slammers Fiscus 7-4 before falling to Gameday Enockson by a 10-6 count — the Tigers put themselves in position to keep playing tournament baseball on Friday at 1-2 overall in their pool.
Holy Family lost to perennial big-school power Cherry Creek by a slim 3-2 score on Wednesday, as well. Because four teams in the Holy Family pool went 1-2, the Tigers earned a spot in the 16-team single-elimination bracket by virtue of the runs-allowed seeding tiebreaker.
It was unclear where they would fall immediately after Thursday's games played out, but summer coach Nate Hesser had good things to say about his young Tiger team and their effort.
"We're a young group, but I think that first game today against the Slammers we definitely grew," Hesser said. "That team over there is a bunch of seniors, some already graduated, and we started a freshman (on the mound). We battled.
"I thought overall we played pretty well. We'll come out tomorrow and compete no matter if where we land."
With the possibility of seven games in five days, some young arms get rolled out to the hill in the Boulder NIT's second day of pool play. For the Tigers, it was Matthew Delgado in the first game and Emmanuel King in game two.
Walks played a big role in both contests. Delgado walked just two in 6 2/3 innings of work over the Slammers, while Gameday took advantage of 11 walks issued by Holy Family pitchers. On the other side, Holy Family's patience worked for 10 walks in game two, but the Tigers just couldn't get enough timely hits to make them count.
King issued six walks but was far from being wild, Hesser and Welsh agreed. He missed close on some good pitches in three-ball counts.
"It seemed like (King) was close to the zone, and the umpire was calling his zone and we just didn't adjust early enough in our pitching," Welsh said. "On offense, we didn't come through when we needed to in some key at-bats."
"You get an umpire that has a bit of a tight zone, and you have to adjust to it," Hesser said. "We tried to do it but it just didn't happen for us."
Gameday exploded for most of its runs in the fourth and fifth innings to keep its chances of bracket play alive. Silver Creek's Rex Olinger had two hits and drove in three runs for the Parker-based club team.
Tournament rules ended the game after five innings and two hours, but the Tigers will get a chance to keep proving themselves on Friday.
"I always think with this team we can beat anybody out there, and we could have come out better in this second game but came up a little bit short," Welsh added. "We're a pretty good team at coming back and fighting through things."
The Colorado Aces, Slammers Givens, Batters Box Blue and Slammers Akerfelds are the top four seeds for the 16-team tournament. Monarch, Peak to Peak and the NoCo Roughnecks also made bracket play in addition to the Tigers.