NORTHGLENN — “Bote Ball” is officially back in town. A name renowned across the Colorado baseball scene, the next in line stands at shortstop, a slight build with brown locks spilling out his hat.
Zeke Bote is the latest addition to a long and successful family history on the diamond. Quickly, though, he’s making his own name at Prospect Ridge Academy, too.
Under grey skies Tuesday at Northwest Open Space, the freshman played at short and came in to pitch late in an eventual 10-7 loss to Metro League rival Kent Denver.
In the dugout was his grandfather Bob, the legendary coach who in the late 90s etched the family name and the “Bote Ball” idiom (named for his teams’ precision in small ball) into state lore while coaching Niwot to five titles. He’s now in his first season as an assistant under Mark Knudson with the Miners.
And from the bleachers was his father Danny, the pastor and former coach of the title-winning Faith Christian team in 2011. The star player on that team was David Bote, Zeke’s uncle, who is now all but a veteran these days within the Chicago Cubs organization.
“I see a lot of good things in him,” Bob said of his grandson. “He knows the game really well. He knows what to do. And that’s what I like.”
His knowledge of the game really is “beyond his years”, coach Knudson, also a notable longtime MLB player, seconded. The fifth-year head man of the program beamed when talking about the IQ of Zeke, one of 11 freshmen on roster. He believes at least some of that must come from Bob, who is deemed “The Encyclopedia” on the coaching staff.
“He’s seen everything — he’s seen everything that can happen on a high school baseball field,” Knudson said of Bob. “That’s invaluable and he’s passed that down. He wanted to come here because he wanted to coach Zeke … and it’s a blessing that he did.”
Zeke’s fundamentals on defense have been exemplary so far this spring, his coaches say, and his .385 batting average is eye-popping, even if the power isn’t quite there yet.
Against the Sun Devils on Tuesday, Zeke was sent to the mound in the top of the seventh inning with runners on the corners in a tie game. A brutal tough spot for anybody to come into, especially a freshman — Knudson didn’t have a second thought.
The Sun Devils (11-6, 6-4 3A Metro) scored four in the inning to pull ahead for good. The Miners (7-11, 4-7) had their two-game winning streak snapped.
“I put Zeke in the game, not because he’s our best pitcher, but I knew he could handle it mentally, where a lot of other guys couldn’t,” Knudson said. “We’ve got 11 freshmen on the team, so we’re extraordinarily young and raw. But he’s the one freshman that just baseball-wise is way ahead. He’s got senior-level baseball knowledge.”
Zeke, a four-sport athlete at PRA, embraces the family narrative, and is fully ingrained in the generational passed-down love of baseball. (Though he says the topic around the family circle doesn’t come up as much as you’d think.)
Four years ago, he was at Coors Field when David took the second pitch he saw in the Majors and put it in the right-field gap. A sixth-grader then, he still dreams that a moment like that will one day be his, too.
“I want to be like that,” Zeke said. “I want to do that. That’s just crazy cool.”
Prospect Ridge Academy, still eyeing a possible regional bid as the season closes this week, will face Jefferson Academy in a doubleheader Saturday.