LONGMONT — When Longmont and Thompson Valley meet on the baseball field, the margin for error is minimal.
In each of their last four matchups, including Friday’s, the game has been decided by one run.
This time, with Longmont attempting to clinch a district playoff berth and Thompson Valley trying to keep alive its postseason possibilities, the little things were even more magnified.
In the end, a three-run fourth inning proved just enough for TV to overcome the host Trojans, 4-3, making Saturday’s rematch at Thompson Valley all the more crucial.
After LHS got within a run in the bottom of the seventh with one out and men on first and second, Drew Magee hit into a double play to end the game. In his previous two at-bats, Magee collected two doubles, drove in a run and scored another.
Likewise pivotal were some defensive plays by Longmont in the fourth that turned a one- or two-run inning in a three-score stanza. A Longmont outfielder threw to the wrong spot after a single. A passed ball allowed a TV runner to advance from first. And there was an infield hit by the Eagles.
“We made a couple of miscues and they got two runs off of it,” LHS coach Tom Fobes said. “If we play clean, it’s a different story. … It cost us pretty good when it’s 4-3. It makes it tough to take.”
With three teams from the 4A Northern League automatically qualifying for 32-team district tournaments, Longmont (10-7 overall and 8-5 in league) was trying to nail down a spot on Friday. But instead, the Trojans are now hoping for a win today at TV or to get some help or to land a spot via a wild-card.
LHS still holds second place in the Northern, but things could change in a hurry with the Trojans being one of four teams with five league losses.
“I’ve heard some talk about the wild-card points and all that stuff, but when it comes down to it, we’ve got to take care of business and win ballgames,” Magee said. “That’s all we can do from here on out.”
Longmont wraps up the league season today, though it does have a non-league make-up against George Washington on Tuesday. TV (10-7, 8-5) meanwhile, made up some ground on Friday and faces crucial league contests against LHS today and Broomfield on Monday.
“They’re all must-wins at this point,” TV coach Jay Denning said. “Before today, second through fifth place — teams trying to fight for that third spot in the playoffs — was separated by one game pretty much. It’s going to be a battle with everybody with arms and who can scratch it out these last couple of days. It’s like a race.”
On Friday, Thompson Valley ace Teague McFadden ran his pitching record to 7-0 with a complete-game victory. Through five innings, he had allowed just two hits and was up 4-1. But Magee scored on a double by Longmont teammate Josh Crist in the sixth. Then the Trojans put together a nice rally in the seventh.
With one out, a double by Zach Zamudio was followed by a walk and an RBI single by Cooper Rothe. That left the score 4-3 with men on first and second and one out. But after his consecutive doubles in previous at-bats, Magee grounded into a 4-6-3 double play that ended the contest.
“It’s kind of been our story all year — we’ve had some issues with the big inning, preventing three or more runs in an inning,” said Magee who went 2 for 4 at the plate on Friday. “That got us again today. We knew we had to play well to beat these guys. They’re a good team. So now we’re focusing on tomorrow, trying to get that split.”
Added Fobes: “Tomorrow becomes a very important game for both teams. If we lose tomorrow, we could be done” as far as playoff hopes go.
Thompson Valley 4, Longmont 3
At Longmont HS
Thompson Valley (10-6, 7-5) 001 300 0 — 4 8 0
Longmont (10-7, 8-5) 001 001 1 — 3 6 0
W — McFadden (7-0). L — Sterkel (5-3).
Thompson Valley hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Smith 3-0-0-1, Soucek 3-0-1-0, McFadden 4-0-0-0, Yep 3-1-2-0, Meintzer 3-1-1-1, Sobraske 2-1-1-0, Hardy 2-0-1-1, Shaw 3-1-2-1, Feuerstein 3-0-0-0. Totals 26-4-8-4. 2B — Yep, Shaw. SB — Yep, Shaw.
Longmont (ab-r-h-rbi) — Magee 4-1-2-1, Yee 3-0-0-0, Crist 3-0-1-1, Leroux 3-0-0-0, Amen 3-0-1-0, Pettibone 3-0-0-0, Zamudio 2-0-1-0, Zuege 0-1-0-0, Sterkel 1-0-0-0, Rothe 3-1-1-1. Totals 25-3-6-3. 2B — Magee 2, Crist, Zamudio. SB — Rothe.
Thompson Valley pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) — McFadden 7-6-3-3-3-4.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) — Sterkel 7-8-4-3-2-4.