DENVER — The Holy Family Tigers and Conifer Lobos finally made their much-awaited season debuts on Monday, but this wasn't any regular baseball game during the season.
Both teams opened the year against each other at the most renowned baseball venue in the state: Coors Field.
Before the Colorado Rockies call 20th and Blake their home for the summer, the Tigers and Lobos faced off in one of the high school games there Monday afternoon. The No. 3 ranked Tigers would leave with the 9-4 win to begin their season.
"This is my third year playing here, but every year there's something new and exciting," senior Davis Martinek said. "We look forward to it every year. It's crazy just playing on this nice of a field and knowing who's played on it before me and all that."
First-game and Coors Field jitters showed early as Holy Family trailed 1-0 through two innings. The offense had two batters reach base by getting hit with pitches, but no one was successful in putting the ball in play. They also were sitting with four strikeouts through eight hitters.
Emmanuel King, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, got the offense in gear to start the third inning, taking a 2-2 pitch over the heart of the plate to right-centerfield for a leadoff triple.
"I wasn't feeling too confident in that at-bat, but I just stood in there and kept my mechanics the same with two strikes," King said. "It worked out in the end."
Martinek scored King with a bunt in the next at-bat to tie the game. Holy Family would put up three more runs in the inning with a Conifer error and a two-run single from Collin Kringlen.
The offense found more success in the fourth with three more runs, all coming off four hits and a walk with two outs in the inning.
"Before, we weren't swinging at our pitches," Martinek said. "We didn't have a good approach at the plate. The second time around, we actually started to take a good approach and attack pitches rather than wait for stuff to happen."
With the lead in place, Holy Family relied on four relief pitchers to keep Conifer from getting the lead back. In five innings of relief, the four would give up three runs off of three hits and five walks to hang on for the win.
Monday's win marked one of the first few times the team as a whole saw live pitching as they have endured a preseason stuck inside due to the snow and weather. Now around two weeks into the season, the Tigers hope that this week will start a trend of getting more time outside to work on things they had to try and simulate indoors.
"We've just been taking ground balls inside and hitting off the machine and not live pitching," King said. "That's been a struggle. This was the first time we had seen live pitching."
A long preseason will result in Holy Family hitting the ground this week with multiple games. On Tuesday, the Tigers will travel to Longmont to face Silver Creek before playing three games in the Cougar-Adidas Slugfest tournament on Friday and Saturday.
While happy with the memories made in Denver, there's plenty of work for the team moving forward, they say.
"We need good pitching and a good approach at the plate," Martinek said. "We need to play better than we did today."
Holy Family 9, Conifer 4
At Coors Field
HOLY FAMILY (1-0)004 410 0 — 9 5 0
CONIFER (0-1)101 000 2 — 4 5 1
W — Holy Family Jordan McFarland (1-0). L — Conifer Avery Fulford (0-1).
Holy Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Davis Martinek 1-1-1-1, Josh Baker 1-2-1-0, Zach Becker 4-2-1-2, Collin Kringlen 3-1-2-3, Jacob Callaway 3-0-1-1, Matthew Delgado 2-0-0-0, Nick McGowan 2-0-0-0, Luke Knudsen 2-0-0-0, Emmanuel King 2-1-1-1, Connor Cooney 2-0-1-0, Cord Kringlen 1-0-0-0, Colin Welsh 1-0-0-0, AJ Perez 2-0-0-0, Caden Lim 1-0-1-0, Izaak Siefken 2-0-0-0. 2B — Collin Kringlen. 3B — Zach Becker, Emmanuel King. HR —none. SB —Jacob Callaway 2,Davis Martinek, Zach Becker, Collin Kringlen, Matthew Delgado.
Conifer hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Gauge Womack 4-1-0-0, Daniel Betsch 4-0-0-0, Avery Fulford 3-1-2-1, John Votaw 2-0-1-1, Alex Ainsworth 2-0-0-0, Tyler Harvey 1-0-0-0, Alex Larsen 2-0-0-0, Cody Brown 1-0-0-0, Cody Jacobson 1-0-0-0, Jackson Hale 1-0-0-0, Zach Fritz 1-0-0-0, Arden Taber 2-0-1-0, Story Talbert 1-0-0-0, Michael Fisher 2-0-1-2, Jeb Barber 1-0-0-0, James Mooney 1-0-0-0, Anthony Larsen 1-0-0-0. 2B — Avery Fulford, John Votaw. 3B —none. HR —none. SB —Michael Fisher.
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Weston Siefken 2-2-1-1-2-5, Jordon McFarland 1-1-1-1-0-0-2, Collin Kringlen 1-0-0-0-0-2, Matthew Delgado 3-2-2-2-4-4.
Conifer pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Avery Fulford 3-3-4-3-4-5, Jackson Hale 1.1-6-5-5-4-1, Daniel Betsch 2.2-0-0-0-0.