LONGMONT - Coming off an extended winter basketball season, sophomore Devon Nowells has gotten a bit of a late start to the Longmont baseball team's spring campaign.
The Trojans, who are currently ranked sixth in the CHSAANow.com poll, need their young No. 1 pitcher to catch up quickly if they are to realize their potential in 2019. So far, Nowells has shown his teammates that he's game for the chase.
On his home field Thursday, Nowells held a resurgent Centaurus club to one unearned run while striking out five batters over five innings to pick up his first win of the season. Winning a Northern League game with their top arm starting on the bump was a welcome sign to the Trojans, and for Nowells.
"I felt pretty good," said Nowells, who also leads the Trojans with 11 RBI's through eight games. "I'm getting back after basketball, I've played a few games and now I'm not on a low pitch count anymore. This was my first time pitching at home and I felt the energy from the crowd and all my guys being with me. It was good to get it going because I love pitching at home."
Nowells pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and the Trojans (5-3, 2-1) scratched out a pair of runs to pull ahead in the bottom of the second inning. Chris Gumeson doubled to led off the second and scored the game's first run with an RBI groundout from Kascen Deeter before Adam Benes scored on a wild pitch a batter later to put the Trojans up two.
Longmont added a run in the third and three more in the fourth before the Warriors (6-3, 1-1) got on the board in the fifth when Eddie Zygowicz scored Kaden Shepherd with a sacrifice fly.
"We finally scratched a couple runs and then we scratched a couple more," Longmont head coach Tom Fobes said. "We played pretty good defense behind Devon and we got a couple 'wow' plays from Brady (Renck) and that was good because we've committed numerous errors in the past few games. We've been in every game and we easily could be 7-1 or 8-0, so it was good to close this one out at home."
Two of the Trojans' three losses have come by one run and Renck has been on fire to start the season, batting .629 with four doubles, two triples, two home runs, and eight stolen bases.
Centaurus went 4-15 last year and has gotten off to a solid start this spring. In their first game back since a successful spring break trip to Surprise, Ariz., where they went 2-1, however, the Warriors were unexpectedly flat.
"We didn't play with the confidence and the intensity that we have over the past couple weeks," Centaurus head coach Doug Kinney said. "We worked from behind in the count and you're never going to compete with a team like Longmont if you're working from behind in the count. We just didn't play, we didn't play smart and we weren't loose. They got the better of us today.
"We feel good about where we're at and how we're playing as a team. We'll just try to get back to doing what we've been doing on Saturday."
Longmont and Centaurus will play the second and final game of their home-and-home series at Centaurus on Saturday. The game will start at Noon with Longmont sophomore Owen Kroeger on the mound against Centaurus sophomore David Jachimiak.
Longmont 7, Centaurus 1
At Longmont H.S.
Centaurus 000 010 0 — 1 4 2
Longmont 021 310 0 — 7 7 2
W — Nowells. L — Van Tassel.
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Battistelli 4-0-1-0, Zygowicz 3-0-1-1, Ziegert 2-0-0-0, Rizzi 3-0-0-0, Van Tassel 1-0-1-0, Renjillian 1-0-0-0, Wieri 2-0-0-0, Cowan 1-0-0-0, Jackimiak 2-0-0-0, Van Zee 3-0-1-0, Shepherd 2-1-0-0, Larson 0-0-0-0. Totals 24-1-4-1. 2B — Battistelli.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Renck 4-1-1-0, Rulon 2-1-1-1, Nowells 3-1-0-0, Gumeson 3-1-1-0, Benes 3-1-0-0, Martinez 2-1-1-0, Deeter 2-0-0-2, Northouse 3-0-1-0, James 2-1-2-0, Lewis 0-0-0-0, Nuesken 0-0-0-0. 2B — Gumeson, Rulon. 3B — Martinez.
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Van Tassel 3.2-5-6-3-5-3, Renjillian 2.1-2-1-1-1-3.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Nowells 5-3-1-0-3-5, Nuesken 1-0-0-0-1-0, Renck 1-1-0-0-0-1.