BOULDER — Baseball is a weird game sometimes.
On Saturday morning in the first quarterfinal game of the Boulder NIT at Scott Carpenter Field, the Longmont-based NoCo Roughnecks committed six errors and walked another six batters creating a lot of traffic on the base paths.
No way they should have been in the game against the Colorado Aces, right?
Yet there they were 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, when one last defensive miscue behind starter Devon Nowells did them in. The Aces made that one run hold up for a 5-4 victory and a trip to Sunday's semifinals.
"For some reason, we didn't play good defense this whole week," Roughnecks coach Tom Fobes said. "Once again, the second largest number up (on the scoreboard) is our errors after our hits. If we play clean we beat them."
Right from the start, Nowells — a sophomore-to-be at Longmont — got himself in a little trouble with back-to-back walks to the Aces' first two hitters. Then the first of two Kacsen Deeter first-inning errors at shortstop, a throwing error, plated the first run.
A wild pitch, a third walk and the second Deeter error made it 3-0 before most of the faithful had settled in. The Aces' Josh Barker had the only hit of the inning to drive in the fourth run.
As disastrous as it could have been to the psyche of the Roughnecks dugout, they let it go rather quickly and answered right back in the top of the second.
A two-out rally that featured singles from Trent Rehrich and Caleb Ayers set the table for nine-hole hitter Trevor Ball, who delivered a Texas-leaguer to left field that scored two.
That was immediately followed by Grant Rulon's similar perfectly placed bloop hit to right that scored the next two runs.
"The kid on the mound (Windsor's Josh Kelnhofer) was good and we did a good job offensively," said Fobes, whose team out-hit the Aces 8-3. "And Josh did a good job on the mound for us. I know he had six walks, but a couple of those, he was trying to figure out the strike zone, and once he figured it out, he was much better.
"We battle and we don't quit, but for some reason, our defense just wasn't here this weekend."
In the sixth, it was Barker that reached on a one-out walk and then stole second. He advanced to third on Craig Singiser's single to left, but when the ball got past Ayers in the outfield, Barker came across with the winning run.
The Roughnecks made it interesting in the seventh. They got a leadoff double from pinch hitter Dusty Howard, but he was stranded at second when Kelnhofer made three straight pitches to get three outs and end the game.
Fobes' U17 team will wrap up their summer season next week at the Gabe Pando Tournament in Fort Collins, while the U16 Roughnecks will head to Connecticut for another tournament.
COLORADO ACES 5, NOCO ROUGHNECKS 4
At Scott Carpenter Park
NoCo Roughnecks 040 000 0 — 4 8 6
Colorado Aces 400 001 x — 5 3 0
W — Kelnhofer. L — Nowells.
NoCo Roughnecks hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Rulon 2-0-1-2, McDaniel 2-0-0-0, Phillips 4-0-0-0, Nowells 4-0-1-0, Gumeson 2-0-2-0, Pohl 2-0-0-0, Pettofrezzi 1-0-0-0, Deeter 3-1-0-0, Rehrich 3-1-1-0, Ayers 2-1-1-0, Hazlett 1-0-0-0, Ball 2-1-1-2, Howard 1-0-1-0. Totals 29-4-8-4. 2B — Howard. SB — Hazlett, Howard.
Colorado Aces hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Grimm 3-1-0-0, Kelnhofer 1-1-0-0, Barnes 3-1-1-0, Ja. Barker 2-1-0-0, Brachtenbach 3-0-0-0, Jo. Barker 2-1-1-1, Singiser 3-0-1-0, Shuffler 2-0-0-0, Berk 0-0-0-0, Emerson 3-0-0-0. Totals 22-5-3-1. SB — Jo. Barker 2, Ja. Barker.
NoCo Roughnecks pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Nowells 6-3-5-1-6-1.
Colorado Aces pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kelnhofer 7-8-4-4-1-3.