Baseball: Amen gem lifts Longmont/Erie past Centaurus in NIT opener

Longmont/Erie pitcher Will Amen fires a pitch during his shutout win against Centaurus in the Boulder NIT.

LAFAYETTE — It wasn’t a prayer session. Yet at the end, everybody was saying Amen.

It was in reference to Longmont/Erie pitcher Will Amen, who spun a 3-0 shutout Wednesday against host Centaurus in his team’s opening game of the Boulder National Invitational Tournament.

It didn’t take divine intervention to diagnose what was working for the right-hander, who struck out 11, scattered four singles, and walked only one. He utilized a mid-80s fastball on the outside corner throughout and never had to modify, because the Warriors never adjusted.

“I was just working quick and I was into the groove,” said Amen, who will be a senior at Longmont next season. “I just wanted to make sure I stayed in that rhythm. I was really spotting up today, just hitting the catcher’s glove.”

It wasn’t complete melancholy for Centaurus, which already had a win in hand. The Warriors defeated Ralston Valley 5-3 in the morning game behind a complete-game effort from Nick Kelly.

Then they ran into Amen.

Warriors coach Aaron Allen was hoping his team eventually would become more aggressive as Amen continued to pound the zone.

“Yeah, especially with a guy who just beat us with a fastball,” Allen said. “He threw two strikes with his curveball and everything else was just fastball. He placed it down the middle, inside, outside. And outside, he was getting every call because he just pounds the zone.

“If we were more aggressive and had a better approach at the plate, we could have done something.”

Longmont/Erie, which only played one game Wednesday, got on the board in the third inning on an RBI fielder’s choice by Cameron Yee. The score remained 1-0 until the top of the seventh, when catcher Ryan Fesmire clobbered a two-run double to the opposite-field gap.

Fesmire also called Amen’s game from behind the plate. Although the tandem is from different schools (Fesmire just graduated from Erie), they have meshed well the past two summers.

“He’s the best catcher I’ve ever played with,” Amen said. “Getting to play with him last summer too, we’ve really gotten to know each other.”

Longmont/Erie co-coaches Harold Simmons and Tom Fobes couldn’t have asked for more in the opening day of the tournament. With runs allowed among the tiebreakers in pool play, allowing zero is as good as it gets. And they only had to deploy one pitcher in Amen, who believes he’ll be able to add a few more innings later in the tournament.

“He goes seven innings, we save pitching,” Simmons said. “He dominated the paint, dominated the strike zone, which is really what he’s done all summer. I haven’t seen anything different all summer long. It’s what we expected and it’s what we got.”

Centaurus also did well in that regard. Justin Angevine followed Kelly’s complete game with one of his own against Longmont/Erie. Although he was on the losing side of the ledger — not many pitchers win with zero run support — he nearly kept pace with Amen and allowed the Warriors to save arms.

“I felt pretty good about it,” Angevine said. “I made one or two mistakes and that was it. We should have won that one if we had a little bit more hitting, and usually in those close games we do.”

Of note, Angevine was starting in place of David Neitenbach, who was hit on the helmet during his first at-bat against Ralston Valley. The ball deflected and broke his nose. Neitenbach departed, but hit a pinch-hit single against Longmont/Erie.

Allen anticipates Neitenbach will start on the mound Thursday morning against Cheyenne Post 6.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21

Longmont/Erie 3, Centaurus 0

At Centaurus H.S.

Longmont/Erie 001 000 2 — 3 7 0

Centaurus 000 000 0 — 0 4 1

W — Amen. L — Angevine.

Longmont/Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Yee 4-1-1-1, Fesmire 4-0-1-2, Crist 4-0-1-0, Lee 3-0-1-0, Crites 2-0-0-0, Amen 2-0-0-0, Z. Zamudio 3-1-1-0, Ingvaldson 2-0-0-0, Rothe 2-1-1-0, Wilkey 1-0-1-0. Totals 27-3-7-3. 2B — Crites, Fesmire. SB — Crites.

Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Inslee 3-0-0-0, Pinkerman 3-0-1-0, Jaskul 3-0-1-0, Angevine 3-0-1-0, Archuleta 3-0-0-0, Kelly 2-0-0-0, Neitenbach 1-0-1-0, Matosky 3-0-0-0, Miles 0-0-0-0, Wright 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-0-4-0.

Longmont/Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Amen 7-4-0-0-1-11.

Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Angevine 7-7-3-2-4-2.

Centaurus 5, Ralston Valley 3

At Centaurus H.S.

Ralston Valley 000 020 1 — 3 9 2

Centaurus 011 300 X — 5 7 1

W — Kelly. L — Greaser.

Ralston Valley hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — J. Robinson 3-2-2-0, M. Robinson 4-0-0-0, DeVore 4-1-2-2, Hutchin 4-0-1-0, Rivera 4-0-2-1, Hornacken 4-0-1-0, Carlson 1-0-0-0, P. Carlson 2-0-1-0, Freehling 2-0-0-0, Elliot 1-0-0-0. Totals 29-3-9-3. HR — DeVore (one on in 6th).

Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Inslee 2-1-0-0, Pinkerman 3-0-0-0, Jaskul 3-0-1-1, Neitenbach 0-1-0-0, Jones 2-0-0-0, Archuleta 3-1-1-1, Angevine 3-1-2-0, Matosky 2-0-1-0, Miles 3-1-1-0, Wright 2-0-1-2. Totals 23-5-7-4. 2B — Angevine.

Ralston Valley pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Greaser 4-5-5-3-2-1, Berger 2-2-0-0-0-0.

Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kelly 7-9-3-2-4-4.