NIWOT — Tanner Morris has not had much to brag about in Niwot’s series with Broomfield baseball.
It has been two years and four outings since the Cougars have been on the winning end of a ball game with their Northern League foes. But what has in recent years become a forgettable conference match-up on Saturday became one of Morris’ most memorable performances.
The right-hander was spotless on the pitching mound, delivering his team a 2-1 win over Class 4A’s eighth-ranked Eagles.
“The last time we beat them, it was my sophomore year,” said Morris, one of Niwot’s three seniors. “We wanted this one bad. We needed this win.”
Morris led Niwot (6-8, 4-6) in an inspired defensive effort in his first complete game and second win of the season. Broomfield (8-7, 7-3) got 10 men on base, seven off walks. But the Cougars’ pitcher did not allow the runners to do much with their opportunities, surrendering only two hits.
And the lone run defending 4A state champion Broomfield did put on the board came off a Niwot miscue. Broomfield third baseman Kyle Holbrook opened the day’s scoring, making it home from third off a wild pitch. The errant play, however, did little to dampen Morris’ spirits.
“I thought it was my best outing of the year,” he said. “My last two starts have been shaky, I haven’t been able to throw strikes well. Today it was just there for me.”
The Cougars’ defense did a full 180-degree turn from Thursday, when Broomfield collected 17 hits in an 11-1 mercy-rule decision in the opening game of the series. But the lumps Niwot took Thursday woke something up in the team.
“We responded to the challenge after they 10-runned us,” Niwot coach Craig McBride said. “That hurt these guys a lot. We played unenthusiastic, bad baseball. But we came out ready today.”
As much as Saturday left Niwot slapping hands, it had Broomfield scratching their collective heads. The team has only swept one series in conference play — against Greeley Central — with the second game turning out to be the kiss of death for the Eagles.
“We’re just going to stop playing on Saturdays I think,” Broomfield coach Garren Estes said. “It’s not working for us.”
Even with its lackluster showing at the plate, Broomfield appeared to have the right moves in the field to protect its early lead. Up to the fifth, the Eagles stranded five Cougars in scoring position. This included coming up with 5-3-2 double play to end the third and tagging out the tying run at home.
It took just a couple of plays to sully all the team’s hard work. Morris batted in the tying run in the fifth, then a passed ball two batters latter allowed Niwot shortstop Bryan Meek to scoot home from third.
The Eagles were optimistic about their chances of regaining the lead, but could not wake up their offense.
“We just needed a few more hits after that, but we couldn’t get anything to drop.” Holbrook said.
Estes pointed out, the tight race for scant post-season berths has made play wicked in the Northern League this season. In turn, the coach believes there is not a team in the conference that can be overlooked. It was a sentiment Morris thoroughly shared.
“We want to make districts in a few weeks,” the pitcher said. “And it seems like everybody in conference is in the running. We needed to make something happen.”
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Niwot 2, Broomfield 1
At Niwot H.S.
Broomfield (8-7, 7-3) 001 000 0 — 1 2 0
Niwot (6-8, 4-6) 000 020 x — 2 7 0
W — Morris (2-4). L — Thomas (1-2)
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Holbrook 2-1-0-0, Boiley 2-0-0-0, Gable 2-0-0-0, Martinez 3-0-1-0, Perez 3-0-0-0, McCulley 3-0-0-0, Estes 3-0-1-0, Sena 2-0-0-0, Brewer 2-0-0-0. Totals 22-1-2-0. 2B — Estes.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Mendez 3-1-1-0, Meek 3-1-2-0, Morris 2-0-1-1, Kinnison 3-0-1-0, Katechis 3-0-1-0, Caruso 3-0-0-0, Hawthorne 3-0-0-0, Kirkpatrick 3-0-1-0, Sarosi 2-0-0-0, Pasma 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-2-7-1. 2B — Meek.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Thomas 6-7-2-1-2-4.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Morris 7-2-1-1-7-3.