The Boulder 14ers joined the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League for the first time this season after several years in the Rocky Mountain Baseball League. While it was the other Boulder team that ultimately clinched the league title, the 14ers made themselves known as a force in the league, something they will look to continue to do in the future.
The 14ers won their last five games to finish in second place in the MHCBL standings with a record of 16-7. Among these last five games won were a pair of doubleheader sweeps to close out the season.
In their home finale of the season against the Fort Collins Bandits on Friday, they played as a collective unit as they have all season. Solid pitching outings and good fundamental defense without committing an error were their keys to success. They showed that lighting up the scoreboard is not the only way to win in this league.
Errors by the Bandits ended up making a huge difference in the scoring in both games. The 14ers fell behind early but tied it in the third. They capitalized off of an early error by first baseman Nathan Dill which allowed the leadoff hitter of the inning Thomas Sabo to advance to third and score easily on the next play.
But the big crack that defined the game came in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run homer to right by Collins Poole to give the 14ers a 3-1 lead. A responsive solo home run by John Klus in the fourth lowered the deficit to 3-2, but 14ers starter Sam Schomberg retired the next seven batters to cap off a seven-inning complete game.
One of the seven hitters retired was the always dangerous Nathan Dill, who took the 14ers deep but not deep enough in his final at-bat in the sixth. But Schomberg was able to successfully escape his last outing of the season with a victory, locating his pitches well to cause weak contact from the Bandits.
In Game 2 the 14ers again fell behind early but immediately responded. Again, they capitalized on mistakes in the bottom of the first as Jackson Woolwine scored the first 14ers run on a passed ball, en route to an 8-5 win over the Bandits. But the big game came from Landon Gaber who had four RBI’s in the game, including a game-tying opposite field RBI single in the third inning.
“Just seeing the ball well and not trying to hit it too hard but find a hole and get the runners in,” said Gaber on his well-disciplined approach to the plate. “Runner on third you gotta realize you don’t have to do too much.”
Gaber added to his great day by making a spectacular catch in foul territory against the netting in Game 1.
While the recipe of not trying to do too much at the plate worked for the 14ers on Friday, they displayed a different side of their offense the next day at the always hitter friendly facilities of Denver Christian School. Gaber capped off their Game 1 5-2 victory over the Denver Generals with a three-run homer to center in the top of the seventh.
More bats struck in Game 2. Like Game 1 the 14ers got out to an early lead this time, but the Generals tied the game at 2-2 in the third on a two-run homer by centerfielder Ross Smith. But the 14ers got to Generals starter Kade Douglas in the top of the fifth, slugging two home runs from power hitters Jake Miller and Preston Cooper.
Cooper would go on to have a big game as the University of Northern Colorado first baseman hit another jack to right field in the seventh to cap off a four RBI day.
Despite early difficulties with scheduling the 14ers ended the season with performances and development to hold their heads up high about.
“I got a lot of improvement with my velocity, my location” Schomberg said on his pitching development over the summer. “The in-game experience is very helpful for going into college.”
Under head coach Mark Goodman the 14ers will look to continue to be a welcome site in the MHCBL’s future.