First official varsity at-bats can often provide disappointment as a player adjusts to the speed of high school baseball, but Erie junior left fielder Preston Terranova will never forget his.
In his first-ever varsity start and second at-bat for the Tigers — the first of which ended with a walk — Terranova launched a three-run home run over the left field wall of Scott Carpenter Park. That early, first-inning spark on a toasty Tuesday afternoon provided the boon that the Tigers needed to bury Boulder in five innings with a 13-3 final.
“I had runners in position. I knew I had to do a job. That’s what we work on. I found the piece of the ball I needed to hit and the rest did itself for me,” Terranova said. “Honestly, I think it was the spark we needed because we’ve been struggling. That was my second at-bat, so no one was really expecting that.”
Erie scored nine runs in the first inning alone, then cooled off before putting Boulder away by the end of the fifth. Up until Tuesday’s game, the Tigers had been working on adjusting to the move up from Class 4A to Class 5A, which Erie head coach Dustin Conley likened to “the jump from JV to varsity.”
“(Terranova’s homer) was a breath of fresh air. We’ve been struggling a little bit with the bats, so getting a guy in there to get an opportunity — and then him coming up like that in a big situation — it’s good to see,” Conley said. “It gave us a good spark because we needed something. We’ve been battling. It’s always been us with one inning here, one inning there on the other side of the fence.”
The Panthers, who play out of Scott Carpenter Park, awarded the home field advantage to Erie to accommodate a team that hasn’t been able to play many games at Erie High School this year. Construction near the campus has prevented the Tigers from putting on a show for their home fans, further adding to their struggles early this spring.
Tuesday’s win elevated their record to 3-5, whereas Boulder fell to 2-8. The Panthers have been dealing with their own growing pains.
“We’re very young, just from a mental standpoint. We lost nine seniors last year, all contributed in some way. We only brought back two varsity hitters, like the guys who got meaningful at-bats in games,” Boulder head coach John Whitehead said. “You’ve got to teach and just have game experience to really understand what that’s about. But I like our makeup. We’re ready. We want to fight and compete. We’re just learning.”
Boulder got the ball rolling quickly in the first inning with a two-run double from senior left fielder Chase Lewis. The Tiger defense shut it down quickly after that.
Then things escalated quickly.
In the bottom of that opening frame, Erie’s hot bats and base runners took advantage of every error, every wild pitch or passed ball that the Panthers committed. The Tigers got a major boost from Terranova’s three-run moonshot, only to see three more RBIs from a Holden Pantier double in his second at-bat of the inning.
Erie led 9-2 after a raucous, 40-minute first frame. Both teams cooled off significantly after that.
The Tigers added a couple more runs in the bottom of the third, thanks to at-bats from Ronin Ward and Pantier, to build up an 11-2 advantage before the Panthers began to creep back. In the top of the fifth, Lewis added to his impressive day at the plate (2-for-3) with a base hit that barely beat out the throw to first but sent Leo Damrauer home.
Two more runs from Erie, first off of a Ward base hit followed by a Chris Lundeen sac fly, ended the game in the bottom of the fifth. Lewis hopes that his Panthers can learn from the loss as they continue to work through their schedule — especially as the weather starts to warm up.
“The beginning was good. We got out early, jumped on them, and then kind of lost focus in the bottom half (of the first inning). If we can bring it in, then that’s a really close game,” Lewis said. “Next game, we’ll try to get after it and stomp on their throats instead of letting them stomp on us.”