LONGMONT — The way Longmont senior third baseman Matt Zamudio sees it, the Trojans baseball team has every opportunity to extend what has been a great year of boys sports at the school.
With plenty of experience at its disposal, Zamudio said, the only thing that could hold them back is themselves.
In their season opener at home against Greeley Central, the Trojans on Friday showed signs of being a team to reckon with. But a Wildcats team with a few more games under their belt already got the benefit of two big two-out hits, and that was enough to forge a 4-1 Northern League win over LHS.
“We do just want to put together a good season, and obviously the end goal is the same for every sport at our school,” Zamudio, who led off and also played second base late in the game, said after the loss. “We just have to capitalize on the amount of returners we have. We have four-year starters in there, and we have good backups.
“We get on the other side of those two-out baserunners, it’s a different game.”
In what seems to be a pretty wide-open league, Longmont has one of the more varsity-experienced rosters with six starters from last year — a few of whom have multiple years of experience built up.
Zamudio is one of those players, Friday’s game being his 60th appearance. Count seniors Noah Befus, Austin Hassler, Avery Peterson and Hayden Carson among a group that played significantly as sophomores, too.
The core is excited, for good reason. But, with Hassler dealing with an injury that has put his status for baseball up in the air — he wasn’t available on Friday — Longmont is already down a big bat in the lineup, a possible starting pitcher and alternating catcher.
His bat was missed against the Wildcats (1-3). Longmont produced just four hits off GCHS’ Cesar Loma, and the middle of the order went a combined 0-for-9.
There were a few balls hit on the screws to the outfield for the Trojans, but head coach Tom Fobes was hoping for a bit more.
“Their kid threw well, mixed it up, and you could just tell it was our first game because we just didn’t swing it well today,” Fobes said. “And, we missed on the couple opportunities we had.”
Longmont grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning, thanks to consecutive singles from Grant Rulon and Zamudio, a walk to Brady Renck and then a Befus groundout.
Greeley Central, which also had just six hits despite the wind favoring hitters, got all the runs it really needed in the top of the fourth. Loma’s double to the wall was cashed in with Gavin Blackburn’s two-strike, two-run single off Befus giving the Wildcats the only lead they would need.
Befus threw well, walking one and striking out four. The LHS defense also was slick overall and produced a second-inning double play.
But down just a couple of runs late, Longmont went down quietly in order in both the sixth and seventh innings.
The teams will play up in Greeley on Saturday at noon, giving the Trojans a chance to quickly erase the happenings of the opener.
“Their pitcher located well,” Zamudio said. “He didn’t throw a lot past us, but location can do it, too.”
“We have experience … this isn’t going to be the norm for us,” Fobes said. “We’re a four and five runs per game team, and if we can get the pitching like we did today, we’re going to win games.”
Greeley Central 4, Longmont 1
At Longmont HS
Greeley Central000 202 0 — 4 6 2
Longmont001 000 0 — 1 4 1
W — Loma. L — Befus.
Greeley Central hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Lesser 4-0-0-0, Morales 4-0-0-0, Bonham 4-1-1-0, Loma 2-2-1-0, Hudson 2-1-0-0, Blackburn 3-0-1-2, Yackey 3-0-2-2, Yeadon 3-0-0-0, Alirez 1-0-1-0. 2B —Loma. SB —Yackey.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Matt Zamudio 3-0-2-0, Brady Renck 2-0-0-0, Noah Befus 3-0-0-1, Avery Peterson 3-0-0-0, Alec Thompson 3-0-0-0, Hayden Carson 3-0-0-0, Chris Gumeson 3-0-0-0, Kascen Deeter 3-0-1-0, Grant Rulon 1-1-1-0, Devon Nowells 1-0-0-0. SB —Zamudio.
Greeley Central pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Loma 7-4-1-1-1-7.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Befus 5-5-2-2-1-4, Deeter 2-1-2-0-2-2.