The continuation of a hot-hitting effort on Monday night for the Boulder Collegians couldn’t distract from Mitch Stophel’s mound work against the Denver Cougars.
After his last outing, a good effort was sorely needed for the King University (Tennessee) product. And while the lineup continued to mash the baseball in a 10-0 win at Scott Carpenter Park to begin a twilight doubleheader, Stophel’s confidence carried him to his best pitching performance of the year.
And it just might have been the cleanest performance for the Collegians, too, as they improved to 16-5.
Nevermind the walks Stophel allowed in his last appearance, because he certainly did. He let loose against the Cougars, getting lead batters out in all but one of his six innings of work and allowing just one hit — an infield single to third base in the second inning.
“Stophel just pounded the zone, attacked hitters and pitched to contact, so he did just a great job,” said head coach Mark Laschanzky after the team won its ninth straight. “He just had a lot more confidence tonight. He actually came up to me a couple days ago when we were talking about our rotation, and he said ‘Hey coach, I’ve got your back, I’ve got you on this one.
“It was a no-brainer to start him.”
Stophel carried some high numbers in his first collegiate season, going 2-3 with an earned-run average above 8.00 and more walks allowed than strikeouts. But as a player who wants to continue to be a starter, what he did on Monday gave hime some encouragement.
He walked two batters but struck out four, including three looking. Defensively, plays by Michael Graff (third base), Jeremy Katz (shortstop) and a diving catch by Blake Gooden helped keep runners off the base paths.
“My last outing was rough, so it feels good to come back from that,” Stophel said. “I just wanted to make them earn everything, and let them hit so our defense could play. Nothing easy.”
Cole Maltese led the charge offensively with three hits and three RBI’s, and three doubles helped forge a six-run third inning. Spencer Ibarra went 2-for-4 with two more RBI’s, extending a red-hot stretch to 16 hits in his last 20 at-bats.
“For me, this is a big one because (the Cougars) was the team I played for for 12 years,” Laschanzy said. “Graff at third is playing phenomonal defense, and Katz has been great for us up the middle. You can’t have a one-hitter without a couple good plays.”
Of note, prior to the game the team held a moment of silence for Tony Gwynn, who passed away earlier Monday after battling cancer. Gwynn played for the original Collegians before becoming one of Major League Baseball’s all-time greatest hitters.
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Collegians 10, Cougars 0
At Scott Carpenter Park
Cougars 000 000 — 0 1 2
Collegians 006 004 — 10 13 0
W — Stophel. L — Smith.
Collegians hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kruzel 3-1-2-1, Katz 2-2-0-0, Ibarra 4-2-2-2, Rosbottom 4-1-2-2, Schiemann 4-1-0-0, Sutherland 2-1-1-1, Maltese 4-0-3-3, Graff 3-1-1-0, Gooden 2-1-2-0. Totals 28-10-13-9. 2B — Ibarra, Rosbottom, Maltese. SB —Gooden.
Collegians pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Stophel 6-1-0-0-2-4.