ARVADA — The first round of the Rocky Mountain Baseball League tournament on Wednesday was a good time for the Boulder Collegians to put together one of their better games of the season.
Much to head coach Taylor Henry’s enjoyment, the fourth-seeded Collegians defeated the fifth-seeded Belmont Owls by a 9-3 margin to advance in the double-elimination tournament.
In tournament setting where the team doesn’t want to get too high or too low, Henry was impressed by his club’s methodical approach to Wednesday’s victory.
“It was a very workmanlike performance from our guys today,” Henry said. “We scored five of our eight runs with two outs, which a big deal because two-out hitting is huge. When you score nine runs, you feel pretty good about your chances of winning. Our pitching was good enough to get us the win.”
While starting pitcher Wyatt Linde (Wooster College) struggled early, the Collegians scored in each of the first four frames. They broke the game open with a five-run third inning, which Frederick graduate Jaron Balman (New Mexico State) capped with a two-run home run. It was Balman’s eighth home run of the summer.
David Campbell (San Jose State) went 4 for 4 at the plate. Balman and Conner Linebarger (Hawaii) each had two hits.
“We just came to play and we hit the ball,” Balman said. “Our pitchers did well and when they made mistakes and walked guys, they came through in the clutch.”
In the game’s most tense moment, pitcher Stephen Wright (Paradise Valley Community College) entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the third inning. On his first pitch, a hard inside fastball, Wright induced a broken bat groundout to third that got the Collegians out of the inning with the lead still intact.
“I kind of just go up there and throw the ball,” Wright said. “I try not to think about anything and that worked. It was a good win.”
Wright allowed just one hit while striking out four batters in 2.1 innings on the mound.
In 2014, the Collegians finished second at the RMBL tournament and earned a berth to the NBC World Series in Wichita. They lost 13-3 in the championship game to the Arvada Colts.
The Collegians will face the top-seeded Arvada Colts in the second round at 5 p.m. on Friday at Long Lake Ranch. The Collegians swept the Colts during the regular season.
“They’re the number one team in the league so we’ve got to be ready to go,” Henry said. “We’ll have to put it all together again if we’re going to beat them.”
Recent Erie graduate Kyle Leahy got the start on the mound for the Owls but lasted only one inning, surrendering two runs on three hits and a walk.
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Boulder Collegians 9, Belmont Owls 3
At Long Lake Ranch Park
011 001 0 — 3 9 1
215 100 x — 9 13 1
W — Linde. L — Leahy.
Belmont Owls hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — A. Breen 3-0-0-0, M. Breen 4-0-2-0, Adkins 3-0-0-1, Lee 4-0-2-0, Clarke 4-1-1-0, Tomitie 3-1-1-0, Bublitz 4-0-1-0, Tarantola 2-0-1-2, Northiud 3-0-1-0, Stone 0-1-0-0. Totals 30-3-9-3. 2B — Northiud.
Boulder Collegians hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Balman 3-3-2-2, Campbell 4-1-4-1, Richardson 3-0-1-1, Olson 3-1-1-1, Rosbottom 2-1-0-0, Linebarger 4-1-2-1, Van Holton 3-1-1-1, Kirkpatrick 3-0-1-0, Faretta 3-1-1-2. Totals 28-9-13-9. 2B — Balman. 3B — Linebarger. HR — Balman (one on in third). SB — Campbell, Olson.
Belmont Owls pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Leahy 1-3-2-2-1-1, Meltz 2-7-6-2-1-1, Heylinger 1.2-3-1-1-1-2, Silvester 1.1-0-0-0-0-0.
Boulder Collegians pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Linde 2.2-6-2-1-3-2, Wright 2.1-1-0-0-1-4, Cremers 2-2-1-1-0-3.