LONGMONT — After spending five weeks in a language-immersion program in Spain, sophomore Chris Slade appears ready to immerse himself in baseball for Dawson School.
At least it certainly seemed that way on Tuesday afternoon when the right-hander racked up 10 strikeouts in his 2014 pitching debut as the Mustangs snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-5 victory over Longmont Christian at Sandstone Ranch.
“My arm is feeling good again,” Slade said after posting his varsity career-high for punch-outs. “I felt like my stuff was working real well early on. Toward the end, I started having some control problems, but I fought through it until the end, then Liam (Angus) got the big last three outs.”
Slade looked to be headed for a complete game, but coach Joe McKenzie opted to bring in Angus after Slade walked the first two Longmont Christian batters in the bottom of the seventh. And though those two went on to score, Angus was able to strike out two players and induce Austin Fineberg to fly out to center with men on second and third to end the game.
Longmont Christian stranded seven men on base over the last four innings.
“After all these years I’ve coached, I have more gray hair,” McKenzie said. “It comes from games like this. You do this for as long as I’ve been around, that’s where the gray hair comes from. You’ve got to sweat it out with these young guys. But we’re making progress; that’s the important thing.”
But Longmont Christian coach Victor Puchino was having a tough time finding a silver lining. After all, the Warriors (4-6 overall, 0-4 in the 2A Mile High League) had a chance for their first league win since last year. But those stranded runners and a key ground-ball error that led to three Dawson runs — two directly, one indirectly — in the seventh inning were aggravating.
“We didn’t lose that game, we gave it away, unfortunately, with the errors,” Puchino said. “It’s frustrating. You get the ground ball you want and it goes right between the legs (with Dawson’s Jake Blank hitting it to second base). It is what it is.”
Dawson (3-7, 1-2) had not only dropped six consecutive games, but were outscored in those contests by a combined 76-11. The Mustangs hadn’t won since March 14.
“It’s kind of nice to get back in the groove again and play some baseball,” McKenzie said. “We need to get our feet back under us. With this team being as young as they are (with no seniors), it’s a learning process with these kids. Today we did some pretty good things.”
But with a combined five errors in the fourth and fifth innings, when Longmont Christian scored three times, it was a mixed bag.
“It was a little closer than we would have liked, but we scrapped hard and got the win in the end,” said Slade, who allowed three hits and walked four.
Sophomore Tanner Fulkerson collected two hits and three stolen bases for Dawson.
Senior Parker Liske led the way offensively for Longmont Christian with two hits and two RBIs.
Dawson, winner of six straight against Longmont Christian, will return to action Wednesday at Highland, while LC hosts Cornerstone Christian Academy on Thursday.
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Dawson School 7, Longmont Christian 5
At Sandstone Ranch
Dawson 200 020 3 — 7 7 5
Longmont Christian 000 120 2 — 5 4 3
W — Slade. L — L. Puchino.
Dawson hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — lade 3-2-1-0, Fulkerson 3-3-2-0, McClellan 2-2-1-1, Blank 4-0-1-2, Clemente 2-0-1-2, Rodrigue 1-0-0-0, Angus 4-0-1-0, Somerville 3-0-0-0, Dodge 3-0-0-0, Chevarria 3-0-0-0. Totals 25-7-7-5. SB —Fulkerson 3, McClellan 2, Blank, Slade.
Longmont Christian hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Eldred 3-2-0-0, Liske 3-0-2-2, L. Puchino 3-0-0-0, A. Puchino 4-0-1-1, Martin 4-0-1-0, Fineberg 4-0-0-0, Dittman 3-0-0-0, West 3-1-0-0, Bolyard 1-2-0-0. Totals 28-5-4-3. SB —West 2, Bolyard 2, A. Puchino, Martin.
Dawson pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Slade 6-3-5-3-4-10, Angus 1-1-0-0-1-2.
Longmont Christian pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — L. Puchino 5-6-4-3-1-5, Martin 2-1-3-0-2-1.