LONGMONT – Leif Nuesken was pretty close to making this year’s senior day a far more memorable one than usual.
The Longmont senior led the Trojans baseball team to a 4-0 win over Niwot at home on Saturday by pitching a complete game shutout. As impressive as he was on the mound in pacing the Trojans to a critical late-season Northern League victory, Nuesken nearly took the game to the next level and carried a no-hitter until there were two outs in the sixth inning.
“I go out there and my goal is just to limit the runs to zero every single game,” Nuesken said. “Sometimes what accompanies that is no hits and It just worked out that I was no-hitting them into the sixth. They got a blooper with two outs in the sixth. It was really fun but it doesn’t happen without amazing plays in the infield and some great catches in the outfield.
“It was senior night and it was great that we were able to perform in front of such a great crowd and keep our conference chances alive for next week with a win.”
Over his seven scoreless innings on Saturday, Nuesken allowed just three hits, walked two batters and struck out four while pitching effectively to contact and receiving plenty of help from his defense. After notching his fifth win of the season, Nuesken (5-1) now has a 1.33 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.
The Trojans (15-5, 10-2) took the lead early when sophomore Devon Nowells scored second baseman Brady Renck, who is batting .609 through the first 20 games of the 2019 season, with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning. Renck then did his part to preserve the Trojans lead in the top of the second, throwing out Niwot’s Nick Yard at home plate.
Longmont’s Adam Benes scored the Trojans’ second run after reaching base via an error in the second inning and then scored again after hitting a one-out triple during a two-run Trojans third. It was a good bounce-back win for No.-4 ranked Longmont after losing to Elizabeth on Friday but the result dealt the Cougars (3-16, 0-12) their fourth straight loss.
“Leif just really pitched well,” Longmont head coach Tom Fobes said. “We made a few good plays to keep the no-hitter in order, we just had one barely get over Kascen (Deeter)’s glove in the sixth. It felt like it was going to happen there for a while but that said, he still pitched great and got the complete-game, three-hitter. They only had one guy get past second base and we threw him out so it was a good win.
“We have three games left and, obviously, the two big ones next week are the two with Silver Creek. That will determine the conference championship.”
The Trojans will open their decisive home-and-home series with No. 3-ranked Silver Creek (18-2, 12-0) on Thursday at Longmont High.
Longmont 4, Niwot 0
At Longmont H.S.
Niwot (3-16, 0-12) 000 000 0 – 0 3 2
Longmont (15-5-, 12-0) 112 000 0 – 4 7 1
W – Nuesken. L – Sheats.
Niwot hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Sheats 3-0-0-0, Stokes 3-0-1-0, Smith 3-0-0-0, Desenfants 3-0-0-0, Yard 1-0-1-0, Castro 3-0-0-0, Meek 3-0-1-0, Nieberger 3-0-0-0, Morford 2-0-0-0, Kleespies 0-0-0-0. Totals 24-0-3-0. SB – Yard 2.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Renck 2-1-1-0, Rulon 3-0-0-0, Nowells 2-1-1-1, Gumeson 3-0-0-0, Benes 3-2-1-1, Deeter 3-0-1-1, James 3-0-1-1, Bunkers 3-0-1-0, Lewis 3-0-1-0, Nuesken 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-4-7-4. 3B – Benes. SB – Renck 3, Nowells.
Niwot pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Sheats 5-6-4-2-1-5, Kleespies 1-1-0-0-0-0.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Nuesken 7-3-0-0-2-4.