Mason Hitz admitted he was battling a little case of the nerves when he took the mound at Suitts Field at Scott Carpenter Park on Thursday afternoon, and it showed.
The Boulder right-hander left a few balls up the strike zone during the first half inning, and visiting Poudre smacked a couple of hard shots to left field, including a long solo home run by Caiden Boyt.
But that proved to be Hitz’s lone misstep, as the Panthers’ junior quickly righted himself and turned in a dominant performance as Boulder picked up it’s first Front Range League win of the season, 8-1 over the Impalas.
After giving up two hits in the first, Hitz held Poudre to one hit over the next five innings while striking out seven with no walks.
“I was just a little nervous and left a few balls up,” said Hitz, who retired Poudre in order in four of his six innings of work. “I just kept faith in my defense and knew that they were going to come through. That’s really why I have confidence in our team to get the job done.”
Hitz retired nine batters in a row between the first and fourth innings and coaxed the Impalas into 10 fly-ball outs.
“He was on it. His breaking ball was pretty outstanding,” said Boulder coach Colt Sedbrook, whose team improved to 4-6 overall, 1-2 in the Front Range. “He was throwing a really hard breaking ball and it wasn’t a very hitable ball.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, showed great patience at the plate and were able to rock Poudre ace Tanner Schoeninger.
A 6-foot-4 right-hander who has signed to play at Colorado Mesa, Schoeninger was dominant in the first, striking out the first two men he faced on six pitches and needing only 12 pitches to get out of the inning.
But Boulder’s Henry Ryan worked a walk out of him to start the second and then moved to second on Alex Arvizu’s sacrifice bunt.
Ryan eventually scored with two outs when Max Pulitzer’s hard shot to second was misplayed for an error.
The Panthers then erupted for five runs in the third, getting singles from Andrew McCarthy, Dana Sullivan, Sam Douglas, Jordan Wardell and Pulitzer, and a double from Cameron Burke.
“We knew we had to bear down with our at-bats,” Sedbrook said. “We executed bunt-wise, we moved guys over.
“Everything was working a little more.”
Boulder added a couple of insurance runs in the fourth. Aiden Chandler hit a laser down the right-field line for a triple, then scored on Ryan’s single to right center. Ryan would later score on an RBI single from Sullivan.
Cameron Mainland worked the top of the seventh for the Panthers to close out the game.
Sedbrook said getting the first league win was huge, especially with what should prove to be an emotional week coming up. Boulder hosts Rocky Mountain on Tuesday, before travelling to Broomfield on Wednesday.
It will be Sedbrook’s first trip back to Broomfield, where he was a star shortstop for the Eagles during the early 2000s.
The Panthers then face rival Fairview on Thursday to close out a brutal three games in three days stretch.
“I feel like this is a big momentum builder,” Hitz said. “We have a bunch of big games next week so hopefully this will just continue on.”
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Boulder 8, Poudre 1
At Suitts Field
Poudre 100 000 0 — 1 4 3
Boulder 015 200 x — 8 11 0
W — Boulder Hitz. L — Poudre Schoeninger.
Poudre hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Spaeth 3-0-0-0, Boyt 3-1-1-1, McFadden 3-0-0-0, Schoeninger 3-0-1-0, Clarkin 2-0-0-0, Kirkwood 3-0-2-0, Kincaid 3-0-0-0, Infante 3-0-0-0, Bartlett 2-0-0-0. 2B —Schoeninger. HR —Boyt.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — McCarthy 3-1-2-0, Burke 3-1-1-1, Chandler 4-1-1-0, Ryan 2-2-1-1, Arvizu 1-0-0-0, Sullivan 2-1-2-2, Douglas 3-1-1-1, Pulitzer 3-0-1-0, Wardell 3-0-1-1, Katz 1-0-1-0, L’Heureux 1-1-0-0, Dinkel 2-0-0-0. 2B — Burke. 3B —Chandler. SB —McCarthy.
Poudre pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Schoeninger 4-9-8-7-4-4, Boyt 2-2-0-0-0-2.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hitz 6-3-1-1-0-7, Mainland 1-1-0-0-0-1.