BOULDER — The mistakes looked like they were going to catch up to the NoCo Roughnecks 17U team on Friday at the Boulder NIT.
In certain situations this summer, however, coach Tom Fobes has seen this ragtag group of players from St. Vrain Valley schools put their noses to the grindstone when it matters most, and doing so in the eighth inning of their round of 16 game at Scott Carpenter Park is a big reason why they are in the tournament’s next round.
Using small-ball to get going, the Roughnecks poured on three runs in the top of the eighth to break a 6-6 tie against Slammers Jenkins, and Gavin Pohl managed to slam the door on any type of comeback in the bottom of the inning to earn their third win of the NIT, 9-6, and push their way to the quarterfinals.
“You just have to keep playing, because otherwise it will compound on itself, whether that’s errors or bad at-bats, can’t throw strikes … whatever it is,” Fobes said. “We did that. I mean, we threw the ball around a bit but we didn’t do it in bunches. We didn’t let it get out of hand and just stayed with things and were able to come out on top in the end.”
“We came together as a team pretty well and put up the runs when we needed to do it to beat a pretty good team,” said the Roughnecks’ Trevor Hazlett, a rising senior at Frederick. “We got the momentum (with small-ball) but then kept putting on runs.”
After securing a seed in the 16-team bracket with a 9-1 pool-play win over Premier West on Thursday at Scott Carpenter, the Roughnecks returned to the field with some energy against another young club squad on Friday.
It led to six early runs over the first three innings of play, but it didn’t translate into solid baseball through seven. In fact, the Slammers took advantage of some small miscues from the Roughnecks defense behind starting pitcher Zach Pettefrezzo, and by the end of the fourth inning the game was knotted at six.
The Roughnecks slowly cleaned up their act, allowing Pettefrezzo to pitch a scoreless fifth and give way to Pohl, a Longmont student-athlete. After pitching a perfect sixth, Pohl struck out a batter with the winning run on third base in the seventh.
The Roughnecks had another chance to make amends.
The speedy Hazlett led off the eighth with a walk, and a sacrifice bunt by Grant Rulon moved him to second. Hazlett then stole third base in Ryan McDaniel’s at-bat, but McDaniel made sure that basepath work mattered as he singled solidly to center to make it 7-6. Four of the next five Roughnecks batters reached base, with run-scoring singles delivered by Kascen Deeter and Pohl to make it 9-6.
After the Slammers got their leadoff hitter on in the bottom of the inning, Pohl struck out the final two batters he faced to seal the victory.
“I thought it was a good day with the boys out here,” said Pohl, who threw just 41 pitches in three innings. “We came out with energy and were cheering each other on. We hit the ball well in the eighth, and I had a lot of pressure going back out there. I feel like I can handle those situations, though, especially with my guys back there supporting me.”
The Roughnecks have a positive outlook when it comes to pitching for the rest of the tournament.
“We’ll try and wait until Sunday, if we can get to it, for Gavin to come back, but Devon (Nowells) will go (Saturday) and we have Trevor Ball, Dusty Howard,” Fobes said. “We just have to clean things up, and we have as good a chance as anybody here.”
In other local action, the teams from Monarch and Holy Family were eliminated from the tournament with losses on Saturday.