WESTMINSTER — The Boulder baseball team’s Front Range League opener on Thursday didn’t end in the Panthers’ favor, but boy was it ever a battle.
Scoring twice to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning, the Panthers pushed undefeated Mountain Range to nine innings before eventually falling 7-6 on a walk-off hit. The Panthers weren’t celebrating any moral victories on the bus ride home, but their comeback effort certainly added credence to the club’s emergence as a Front Range League program on the upswing.
“We never gave up,” Panthers head coach Jack Taylor said. “We had a rough go there in the middle innings. That seventh inning when we battled back and tied it, you saw that there’s just no die in this team. We talked about how we just had to get baserunners and stay in it. They all know they’re a good team and they all know they can play. As long as we can keep that compete in them, things are going to go their way this spring.”
Mountain Range (8-0, 1-0 Front Range) is ranked ninth in the CHSAANow.com poll and entered Thursday’s game as the No. 2 team in the Class 5A RPI standings. Boulder (6-2, 0-1 Front Range) was No. 16 in the RPI before Thursday.
The Mustangs averaged fewer than three runs allowed through their first seven games while the Panthers scored just under 10 runs per game through their first seven. It was the Panthers’ offense that prevailed in the early going, posting four runs in the top of the first inning on three hits, including senior Jackson Dinkel’s first home run of the season, while the Mustangs committed three errors in the frame.
“That was a good energy booster, I think, for the whole team,” said Dinkel, who is batting .318 so far this season and also was the starting pitcher for Thursday’s game. “On the mound, I’ve been struggling with command and I really wanted to throw strikes today. They got to me in the middle innings but, overall, I’m pretty happy with the way I pitched.”
Mountain Range came back to score three runs off Dinkel in the fourth after the Panthers starter threw three scoreless innings to start the game. The Mustangs added two in the fifth and one more in the sixth and entered the seventh inning looking to close out a two-run victory. With their backs against the wall, the Panthers scored twice in the top of the seventh inning to push the game to extra innings.
Though a walk-off hit in the ninth dealt him the loss on the mound, pitcher Sanjay Solomon’s performance in the clutch impressed Taylor. Solomon sports a 0.86 ERA over 16 innings so far this season.
“There’s a lot of life in the league right now,” Taylor said. “Anything can happen and it’s anybody’s game. We feel like better things are still to come for us.”
The Panthers will be back in action on Tuesday when they continue conference play against Greeley West (3-4, 1-0 Front Range) at home.
Mountain Range 7, Boulder 6
At Mountain Range H.S.
Boulder 400 000 200 — 6 6 1
Mountain Range 000 321 001 — 7 14 3
W — Brocklander. L — Solomon.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Yuill 4-1-1-1, Schoenfeld 3-1-1-1, Harris 5-0-1-0, Stansel 4-1-0-1, Dinkel 2-1-1-2, Lim 0-0-0-0, Solomon 1-0-0-0, Prout 3-1-1-0, Chatham 4-0-1-0, Wymore 4-0-0-0, Suchor 3-1-0-0, Furie 0-0-0-0. Totals 33-6-6-5. 2B — Schoenfeld, Yuill. HR — Dinkel (1 on in 1st).
Mountain Range hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Hoffman 4-0-1-0, Polson 5-1-3-0, Domenico 5-2-2-0, Trinkaus 4-1-2-2, Wolf 4-0-0-1, Rojas 1-0-1-0, Courter 5-2-1-1, Mee 5-0-2-1, Simmons 3-1-2-1, Ortega 3-0-0-0, Cusick 1-0-0-0. Totals 40-7-14-6. 2B — Mee, Trinkaus. SB — Hoffman, Polson.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Dinkel 3.2-5-3-3-1-3, Chatham 1.2-4-3-2-2-3, Solomon 3.1-5-1-1-1-4.
Mountain Range pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Brooks 6-3-4-0-2-11, O’Hagan 1-2-2-2-1-1, Brocklander 2-1-0-0-1-1.