LAFAYETTE — Suffice it to say Monday was much more enjoyable than about this same time a year ago for Peak to Peak assistant baseball coach Art Griffin.
Almost one year to the day after being involved in a life-threatening auto accident, Griffin was able to revel in a 10-6 Peak to Peak victory over Centaurus in the Pumas’ home opener.
“The whole day has been pretty emotional,” Griffin said after the win. “It was exactly a year ago (the night of March 10-11). It feels good to be out here.”
Griffin missed almost all of last season after sliding into an oncoming snowplow on a snowy night. His small intestine was severed, he broke eight ribs and suffered compound fractures of the tibia and fibula in his right leg.
Over about a 7-8 week period, Griffin was hospitalized for roughly a month and a half, with some unexpected surgery thrown into the middle of that time frame.
Nowadays, Griffin is largely back to normal aside from having what might be termed a hitch in his giddy-up. The one thing that hasn’t healed completely, and probably won’t ever, is the right leg, though he says, “I’m getting around on it pretty good.”
But the coach rejoined the Pumas for their voluntary workouts over the winter, was on hand for the season-opening win at Arvada last week, and was able to enjoy the home opener on Monday. Throughout the game, he could be heard instructing the players, and yelling encouragement and the usual baseball jargon.
“It actually helps me as far as being involved with these guys,” said Griffin, who’s in his fourth year with the Pumas. “I’m doing the thing I love, coaching baseball and teaching the game.”
His presence is proving mutually beneficial.
“Him coming back definitely draws emotion, especially after what happened to him last year,” said senior John Howard, who collected two hits and drove in two runs in the first inning alone on Monday.
“He was missed a lot last year,” Peak to Peak head coach Tim Combs said of Griffin.
“The kids have responded to him well this year. He’s pretty much taken over the pitchers and catchers and is doing a good job with that. I’m glad to have him back.”
Against Centaurus, the Pumas improved to 2-0 on the season thanks to a very fast start. Peak to Peak sent 15 players to the plate in the first inning, scoring 10 runs. Each of the first six batters scored after a walk and five straight singles, respectively. Howard (a single and a triple), Cos Braswell (two singles) and Taylor Jackson (two singles) each collected two hits in the inning.
“We were just stroking the pitcher (Centaurus’ Billy Miles) at first,” Howard said.
“It’s an old cliche, but hitting is contagious. It really showed today, especially in the first inning.”
Added Combs: “Our philosophy over the last four or five years is getting 90 feet at a time. There may have been one extra base hit (Howard’s triple), but for the most part it was all singles, nice line drives, and we ran the bases well. It’s a rare thing to do that in the first inning against a good team, but it was exactly what we were looking for.”
Not surprisingly, Centaurus coach Aaron Allen had a little different perspective after the Warriors’ season opener.
“We weren’t ready to go,” he said. “We put a senior out there to pitch and he gets lit up. That was the game. They scored it all right there. We win the rest of it, but that doesn’t matter.”
After falling behind 10-1 after the first inning, Centaurus chipped away in each of the last three innings, making Peak to Peak sweat a little in the seventh, when the Warriors scored twice.
Nick Kakavas struck out 10 in 5 inning to pick up the win for the Pumas.
Jackson (three) and Howard, Braswell and Zach Feigelson (two each) led the way offensively with multiple hits each.
For Centaurus, Kristian Williams provided a spark with a 2-for-4 performance, including a double.
Peak to Peak 10, Centaurus 6
At Peak to Peak High School
Centaurus (0-1) 100 012 2 — 6 6 3
Peak to Peak (2-0) (10)00 000 X — 10 12 2
W — Kakavas (1-0). L — Mills (0-1).
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Neitenbach 4-1-1-0, Archuleta 3-2-1-1, K. Williams 4-0-2-0, Angevine 2-0-0-1, M. Williams 2-0-0-0, Finamore 0-1-0-0, B. Miles 1-1-0-0, Guerrero 2-0-0-0, Chacon 2-0-0-0, Larson 1-0-1-2, I. Miles 3-1-1-0, Jessup 1-0-0-0. Totals 25-6-6-4. 2B — Neitenbach, K. Williams, I. Miles. SB — Archuleta, Angevine..
Peak to Peak hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kelly 2-2-1-0, Howard 4-2-2-2, Braswell 4-2-2-2, Jackson 4-1-3-0, Ward 3-1-1-1, Feigelson 4-1-2-1, Bussinger 3-0-1-0, Bride 4-1-0-0, Bradfield 2-0-0-0. Totals 30-10-12-6. 2B — Jackson. 3B — Howard. SB — Kelly, Jackson, Feigelson, Bussinger, Bride..
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — B. Miles 0.2-7-10-4-2-0, Cerrannante 4.1-4-0-0-2-2, K. Williams 1-1-0-0-0-0.
Peak to Peak pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kakavas 5.2-2-4-0-6-10, Braswell 1-4-2-1-1-0, Howard 0.1-0-0-0-0-0.