LONGMONT — For the better part of six innings on a windswept Thursday, it was looking like the Longmont baseball team was going to have to settle for a split with Greeley Central this week.
Then the explosion.
The host Trojans erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, then sweated out a dramatic seventh to hold off Greeley Central 9-7 in a Class 4A Northern League game.
Andrew Bladt blasted a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth and sophomore center fielder Cooper Rothe threw out a runner at the plate to end the Wildcats’ threat — and the game — in the seventh.
“On that pitch I was just trying to get something up the middle to score the go-ahead run,” Bladt said. “It just went.”
Longmont (5-1, 4-0) trailed 4-2 entering the sixth. After a pair of RBI groundballs tied it, Bladt came up with two outs and blasted a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall. The Trojans added two-more runs on an RBI triple by Spencer Zuege to take a 9-4 lead to the seventh.
“That one inning, it got us what we needed as it turned out,” said Longmont coach Tom Fobes, whose Trojans also beat the Wildcats 8-4 in Greeley on Tuesday. “They came back and got four hits in a row right there.”
On the last of those four, a single to center by ninth-place hitter Joel Delarosa-Hinton, Rothe came up firing when Zach Degraffenreid tried to score a second run on the play rather than stay at third with the top of the order coming up.
Freshman catcher Easton Cacala appeared to block the plate on the bang-bang play and Degraffenreid was called out, much to the dismay of Greeley Central coaches and players.
“I saw the third-base coach waving him home and heard everybody yelling ‘Go four,’ so I just let it go,” Rothe said. “I thought he got him on the foot right before he touched the plate. It was a good play by the catcher.”
Longmont pitcher Will Amen came one out shy of a complete game but still earned a win while posting six strikeouts. He encountered difficulties early as Greeley Central (3-6, 2-3) built a 4-1 lead in the third inning, but settled down and cruised until the seventh.
Leadoff hitter Cameron Yee went 2 for 2 with two walks and three runs scored and right fielder Kyler Leroux went 3 for 3 with a double and a run for the Trojans. But the day belonged to Bladt, who had an RBI single in the third before his big blast.
“We have a lot of guys who we like in that situation,” Fobes said. “One through nine, we’re feeling pretty confident about our hitters. But it was really good for A.B. He had an off night Tuesday, for him.”
Longmont will depart for southern California on Friday, where the Trojans will play five games as part of a spring break trip. Thanks to the late heroics, positive vibes will accompany the travel day.
“I’m feeling pretty great, honestly,” Bladt said. “We have a great group of guys and a great group of leaders. Our upperclassmen and our freshmen and sophomores are getting the job done really well.”
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Longmont 9, Greeley Central 7
At Longmont HS
Greeley Central 211 000 3 — 7 13 3
Longmont 101 007 X — 9 11 2
W — Amen (2-1). L — Agens (1-3). Sv — Ingvaldsen.
Greeley Central hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Pisano 3-1-2-1, Lenz 3-0-0-0, Lechman 4-3-3-1, Trego 3-1-2-1, Loma 3-1-1-1, Agens 4-0-0-0, Rivas 3-0-0-0, Degraffenreid 1-0-1-1, Guyette 4-0-1-1, Delarosa-Hinton 3-1-3-1. Totals 31-7-13-7. 2B — Lechman. 3B — Pisano, Trego.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Yee 2-3-2-0, Amen 4-0-1-0, Bladt 3-1-2-4, Leroux 3-1-3-0, Peterson 3-0-0-0, Wilkey 1-1-0-0, Zuege 4-1-2-2, Sterkel 3-1-1-0, Andrew 3-1-0-1, Rothe 3-0-0-1, Cacala 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-9-11-8. 2B — Leroux. 3B — Zuege. HR — Bladt (two on in 6th).
Greeley Central pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Agens 5.1-8-5-2-4-1, Lechman 0.2-3-4-2-1-2.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Amen 6.2-11-6-61-6, Ingvaldsen 0.1-2-0-0-0-0.