The Boulder Collegians were fortunate to get going early at the National Baseball Congress World Series, in multiple senses.
With temperatures in Wichita, Kan. reaching triple digits, most of the teams competing Friday had to attempt to keep cool while playing under the scorching sun. But Boulder lucked out, drawing the 9 a.m. game and avoiding the extreme heat.
The Collegians were also able to jump out to a big lead to begin their opening contest at the tournament, building up the substantial advantage in the first two innings that allowed them to coast to a 7-3 victory over the Kansas Cannons. Cole Maltese led the way with four RBIs, while AJ Kruzel went 4 for 5 with two runs and was one diving snag away from a perfect afternoon at the dish.
Loading up the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning, Boulder got on the scoreboard when Drew Rosbottom batted in a run on a groundout to third base. Cole Maltese then delivered a two-run single that plated Tyler Sutherland and Spencer Ibarra to make it 3-0.
The Collegians were back at it in their second turn at bat, as Will Powell led off with a single. Kruzel later singled as well, and Sutherland drew a walk to once again fill the bases. Ibarra then singled to center to move everyone up a bag and add a run to the board.
With two outs Maltese stepped back into the box and laced a double down the third base line to score two more and make it 6-0. Michael Graff followed that with an RBI single that scored Ibarra to tack on an extra point to the Collegians’ touchdown.
“Cole showed up like he’s been doing all year,” Collegians coach Mark Laschanzky said. “Runners in scoring position, he’s been coming through and today he came through big time for us.”
While the Collegians chased the Cannons’ starter within the first two innings, Boulder hurler Russell Mithlo was given more than enough support to last through his outing. Despite not having thrown recently he showed no signs of rust, spreading 10 hits over seven innings before handing things off to Tyler Patty to shut the door in the final two frames.
“We couldn’t ask for anything more from Russ, that’s for sure,” Laschanzky said. “He went out, competed, pounded the strike zone and just made them try to beat him. That’s a recipe for success for me.
“He’s been our dog on the mound. We gave him a little extra time to rest in the playoffs, he was a little sore, so he didn’t throw at all (at the regional tournament)… but he came to us right before we left for Wichita and said ‘Hey, I’m ready to go, give me the ball,’ so it was a pretty easy decision.”
The victory earns the Collegians a day off, as they will resume play at the double-elimination tournament on Sunday against the winner of Friday night’s Derby (Kan.) Twins-Jasper (Ind.) Reds game.
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Boulder Collegians 7, Kansas Cannons 3
At National Baseball Congress World Series (First round)
Cannons 000 002 100 — 3 12 0
Collegians 340 000 000 — 7 13 1
W — Mithlo.
Collegians hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kruzel 5-2-4-0, Sutherland 4-2-1-0, Ibarra 3-2-2-1, Rosbottom 4-0-0-1, Maltese 4-0-2-4, Graff 4-0-1-1, Katz 4-0-0-0, Powell 4-1-1-0, McCoy 4-0-2-0. Totals 36-7-13-7. 2B — Kruzel, Ibarra, Maltese.
Collegians pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mithlo 7-10-3-3-1-2; Patty 2-2-0-0-0-2.