ERIE–Sometimes, a good slugfest in high school baseball can lead to an exciting competition.
On Thursday at Erie High School, the players swung far and wide as Erie got the best of Longmont in the end, 8-7. The teams exchanged blow after blow, especially in the early innings, as the Trojans and Tigers hit deep often.
“It was a good team win today. After what happened the other day with our bats (two hits) and to come out and to beat a team like that, it feels really good,” senior infielder Mason Boccia said. “Today, first inning, we put up five runs. That really set the tone for the day and we had good defense to back it up.
The Trojans got off to a hot start as, in the top of the first inning, they scored two runs off of a base hit from designated hitter Jacob Moats. Longmont led 2-0, but that didn’t last long.
Erie took just two batters to get on the board in the bottom of the inning. Holden Pantier took the leadoff spot and immediately opened up the Tiger offense with a smooth triple. On the next at-bat, Boccia drove him in on a sacrifice fly to pull within one run, 2-1.
The Tigers spent the next few minutes augmenting the score as they eventually took a 5-2 lead by the end of the first inning. Dillon Alcouffe, Darian Burnett and Austin Rodriguez all collected RBIs as they also scored on a Longmont error.
The Trojans closed the gap in the second inning to 5-3 when Danny O’Brien knocked in one of his men. They pulled even closer in the third as senior third baseman Devon Nowells drove in another run to make it 5-4.
In the bottom of the third inning, Rodriguez earned another RBI as Longmont opted for a fielder’s choice that allowed Erie to get ahead 6-4.
The two teams cooled off for the next few innings, but the Trojans decided late that they didn’t want to go down without a fight.
In the top of the sixth inning, Nowells tied the contest back up at 6-6 when he doubled to bring in two of his boys. A few batters later, the Trojans got gutsy.
With runners on first and third, Longmont designed a stealthy play. The runner at first feigned a steal, forcing Erie’s pitcher to throw to second base. Meanwhile, Nowells sprinted off third to beat out the subsequent throw to home plate. The Trojans took a 7-6 advantage, their first since the top of the first frame, to really make the Tigers sweat.
“Defensively, we practice it every day if it happens to us. We know mistakes that can happen, so basically, I’m on third, Johnny (Vandiver) gets walked and coach was like, ‘I think we want to do it,’” Nowells said. “We both agreed that I probably should go. We didn’t care if I got caught up or anything at third. If he’s looking like he’s going to second, I’m leaving. Luckily, it worked out.”
The Tigers responded in kind.
In the bottom of the same frame, Erie scored on a throwing error to first base to reach a 7-7 draw once more. In the very next at-bat, Boccia drove in the go-ahead run (8-7).
Longmont senior pitcher Owen Folse relieved Herbie Mitchell in the bottom of the sixth and came in clutch when he struck out one final batter on bases loaded to keep the deficit within striking distance.
The Tigers, however, were able to successfully hold them off to secure victory. With the win, Erie advanced to 4-3 on the season as Longmont fell to 6-4.
Longmont heads next to Riverdale Ridge on Friday at 3 p.m. as Erie heads to Mead on the same day and same time.