Skip to content

Baseball: Boulder stays in thick of 5A regional contention with win

Panthers shut out Monarch behind pitcher Balderas-Lujan


LOUISVILLE — In a Class 5A Front Range League battle Saturday between two teams hoping to make the postseason, Boulder pitcher Danny Balderas-Lujan stuck to his game plan and the end result took care of itself.

Balderas-Lujan pitched a complete game and the Panthers’ offense capitalized on just about every mistake by Monarch en route to a 4-0 victory on the Coyotes’ home diamond.

Boulder (9-11 overall, 4-5 FRL) is taking a one-game-at-a-time approach to its final few regular season games as it hunts for a playoff spot. The Panthers entered the day at No. 35 in the 5A RPI rankings and won their second game in a row after snapping a four-game losing streak Thursday against Loveland.

Monarch (6-12, 1-8), entered the day at No. 41 in the RPI rankings and saw its playoff hopes take a hit with the loss.

“We are trying to go 1-0 each day out,” Boulder head coach John Whitehead said. “We need every game down the stretch to really get that spot locked up. But we have three tough games left and we are going to take them one game at a time. Our goal is playoffs. That’s where we want to be and that is where Boulder needs to be every single year.”

Saturday’s victory started with Balderas-Lujan on the mound. He scattered six hits and struck out three without allowing a run.

Only three Monarch runners reached second base. One was wiped off the basepaths on a double play and the other two were stranded at third.

“I think it was really important to throw strikes today,” Balderas-Lujan said. “All I tried to do was throw strikes. My pitch sequence, fastball, curveball, changeup really worked today as well. I let my defense work whenever there were runners in scoring position. I think that worked a lot too.”

Balderas-Lujan also had a solid day at the plate, going 3-for-4. His one-out double in the bottom of the fourth set the table for the Panthers’ first two runs.

With runners on second and third, Cooper Conroy lifted a fly ball to short left field that fell between two Monarch players trying to track it down. Conroy reached second and Balderas-Lujan and Chase Lewis scored to give Boulder a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Monarch intentionally walked Derek Woolwine with one out. After advancing to second on a groundout, Woolwine attempted to steal third and scored when the throw to get him scooted into left field. That made it 3-0 for the Panthers.

“Their pitcher did a great job keeping us off balance,” Whitehead said. “He mixed it up well and our guys struggled to make the adjustments. We talk all the time about scoring when we have scoring opportunities. Our goal, offensively, is to put pressure on the defense and make them make plays. They did for most of the game, we were just able to capitalize on a few things.”

In the top of the seventh, the Panthers added an insurance run when Ryan Sunderland walked with one out, stole second and took third when the throw from behind the plate went into center field. He later scored on a single by Balderas-Lujan.

Balderas-Lujan then took the mound for the final frame and set the Coyotes down in order. He ended up retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.

“Danny did a great job,” Whitehead said. “We’ve talked all year about throwing strikes and attacking the zone and that was exactly what he did today. You can’t ask for a better outing. He bought into what we asked him to do and the results speak for themselves.”

Boulder will be back in action Tuesday against Mountain Range. Monarch will host Poudre.