NIWOT — When Alex Kinnison broke into his home run trot in the sixth inning, the senior from Niwot figured he merely was putting an exclamation point on the Cougars’ latest comeback victory.
Little did Kinnison know he would have to deliver in a far more clutch situation just one inning later.
In a back-and-forth affair in which the momentum changed hands on numerous occasions, it was Kinnison and the Cougars who claimed the final salvo, as Kinnison’s walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh lifted Niwot to an 11-10 win against Silver Creek.
Ranked third in Class 4A in the state’s latest AP media poll, Niwot improved to 12-1 overall and remains unblemished atop the Northern League with an 8-0 mark.
“We’ve got tons of confidence and we know we’re one of the best-hitting teams in the league,” Kinnison said. “We can hit one through nine in our order, so it never crossed our minds that we couldn’t win this thing. We believe in our bats and as you can see, we came back strong.”
One inning before his walk-off heroics, Kinnison blasted a solo home run to right field that gave Niwot a seemingly comfortable 10-6 cushion heading into the seventh. The Cougars already had rallied from an early 6-0 deficit, and Kinnison’s first homer of the season appeared to finally subdue the visiting Raptors.
However, buoyed by some uncharacteristically sloppy Niwot defense, the Raptors rallied to score four runs in the top of the seventh to stay alive. Senior leadoff hitter Scott Platt provided the big hit with a two-run double, and Platt later scored the tying run on Niwot’s third error of the frame.
“We’re cruising along, playing well and playing a clean game, and for whatever reason (Niwot) started hitting the ball around the park and put up big numbers,” Silver Creek coach Trevor Platt said. “A lot of teams would have tucked tail and given in, but these guys are going to fight until the end. It’s tough to work that hard and be that close, and then drop it.
“We had them on the ropes, but credit to them — they fought back.”
Niwot received a huge boost on the mound from junior Nick Elrod, who replaced starter Ladd Ford after Silver Creek had raced to its 6-0 lead and provided 3 2/3 scoreless innings to give a chance for the Cougars’ bats to heat up.
Besides Kinnison’s late heroics, Niwot’s Pate Katechis went 3 for 4 with three extra-base hits and two RBIs, while Tanner Kirkpatrick went 4 for 4 with three RBIs.
“I think the great thing about our team is that we’re able to fight no matter what happens,” Kirkpatrick said. “If we get down, we’re still going to be confident. Everyone knows that everyone on the team can do it, and that attitude is just rolling with everybody.”
The teams complete the home-and-home set Saturday at noon at Silver Creek.
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Niwot 11, Silver Creek 10
At Niwot H.S.
Silver Creek 240 000 4 — 10 11 1
Niwot 010 171 1 — 11 16 4
W — Cintora. L — Webster.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Scott Platt 4-3-2-2, Sebastian Metcalf 5-2-3-1, Zach Brown 5-0-1-1, Jimmy Fuhrman 4-0-2-2, Austin Wood 4-0-0-0, Matt Siedem 3-1-0-0, Elijah Larimore 3-2-1-0, Kyle Barth 3-1-2-0, Mitch Webster 1-0-0-0, Capper Newton 3-1-0-1. Totals 35-10-11-7. 2B —Larimore, Fuhrman, Platt. SB — Metcalf.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Aldair Cintora 3-1-2-1, Bryan Meek 3-1-1-0, Alex Kinnison 5-1-2-2, Pate Katechis 4-3-3-2, Tanner Kirkpatrick 4-0-4-3, Joey Plunkett 0-1-0-0, Cameron Kopplinger 4-1-1-0, Danny Caruso 4-1-1-2, Nick Elrod 1-0-0-0, Kai Halsey-Mendez 2-2-1-0, Skyler Messinger 2-0-1-0. Totals 32-11-15-10. 2B — Katechis, Kirkpatrick, Kopplinger. 3B — Katechis 2, Caruso. HR — Kinnison (none on in sixth).
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Brock Ricks 4.2-10-8-8-2-0; Kyle Barth 0.1-3-1-0-0-0; Mitch Webster 2-3-2-2-3-1.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Ford Ladd 1.1-6-6-5-1-1; Nick Elrod 3.1-4-0-0-2-3; Danny Caruso 1-0-0-0-1-2; Aldair Cintora 1-1-4-0-1-3.