NIWOT — Bryan Meek and the rest of the seniors on the Niwot baseball team have heard a familiar refrain the past few years.
Others, such as the Cougars’ coaching staff, would often laud the potential on the Niwot roster, only to watch the team fall short in crunch time.
So far, Niwot is reversing that trend in 2014 while turning that vast potential into reality.
The Cougars continued their impressive start on Thursday, getting another stifling pitching performance while using a bases-loaded triple from leadoff hitter Kai Halsey-Mendez to post a 4-1 win against Mountain View in a Class 4A Northern League contest.
Niwot (6-1, 3-0) entered the game with a team earned-run average of 1.54 and lowered that mark to 1.46. The Cougars, ranked 10th in state’s latest AP media poll, have allowed only 10 earned runs in 48 innings.
“We think our pitch counts are a little high, and we’re going to work on that, but we want to keep those starters as long as we can,” Niwot coach Craig McBride said. “I thought the strike zone was very tiny today, but they did a good job adjusting to that.”
Meek’s victory on Thursday was not without a few tense moments, as he issued five walks through the first three innings. That included three walks in the third, but Meek escaped that jam with only one run allowed after Niwot got the benefit of the doubt on a close play at first on an inning-ending double-play.
Afterward Meek appeared to settle down, allowing only a pair of singles in the next two innings before departing after the fifth.
“We’ve been getting good pitching all season, and the key has been to pound the strike zone — get ahead and stay ahead,” Meek said. “I feel like that double-play was a big momentum shift that really put the game in our favor. We really took it from there and ran with it.”
Meek answered the sixth-ranked Mountain Lions’ lone tally with an RBI single in the bottom of the third, and Halsey-Mendez provided the big hit in the fourth.
With two outs, the Cougars loaded the bases on a single from Tanner Kirkpatrick and consecutive walks by Skyler Messinger and Aldair Cintora. Halsey-Mendez roped an opposite-field triple down the right field line that cleared the bases and propelled the Cougars to victory.
“Really, everyone else did the hard work,” Halsey-Mendez said. “They got on base. I just got into one and was able to take it down the line. I think we’ve always had confidence, but we’re really starting to put it together.”
The teams complete the home-and-home Northern League set Saturday at noon at Mountain View.
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Niwot 4, Mountain View 1
At Niwot H.S.
Mountain View 001 000 0 — 1 4 2
Niwot 001 300 x — 4 6 0
W — Meek (2-0). L — Porterfield.
Mountain View hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Aaron Morrison 2-0-0-0, Max Moree 3-0-0-0, Adam Baumann 2-0-1-1, Dakotah Shea-Shelley 2-0-0-0, Ozzie Pearcy 3-0-0-0, Justin Clinton 2-0-0-0, Jerrod Klug 3-0-0-0, Hunter Porterfield 3-0-2-0, Cody Howell 3-1-1-0. Totals 23-1-4-1. SB —Baumann.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kai Halsey-Mendez 2-0-1-3, Bryan Meek 3-0-2-1, Alex Kinnison 3-0-1-0, Pate Katechis 3-0-0-0, Danny Caruso 3-0-0-0, Cameron Kopplinger 3-0-1-0, Tanner Kirkpatrick 2-0-1-0, Joey Plunkett 0-1-0-0, Skyler Messinger 1-1-0-0, Aldair Cintora 1-2-0-0. Totals 21-4-6-4. 2B — Meek. 3B — Halsey-Mendez.
Mountain View pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hunter Porterfield 5-6-4-4-4-6; Jerrod Klug 1-0-0-0-1-1.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Bryan Meek 5-3-1-1-5-3; Danny Caruso 1-0-0-0-0-1; Pate Katechis 1-1-0-0-1-0.