By Ben Rossi
It’s always refreshing to see low scoring baseball every once in awhile especially when it’s played in a region like the rocky mountains. Both games of Thursday’s doubleheader between the Colorado Cannons and Colorado Lumberjacks presented this.
It became evident through the first four innings that Game 1 was a pitching duel between Jake McGrath and Caden Nelson. Neither allowed a run through the first three frames of work. Each pitcher escaped jams in the early innings without surrendering any runs. Nelson got hitters whiffing at his high offspeed stuff while Mcgrath was able to depend on his defense to make plays on hard contact by the opposition.
The first scoring breakthrough came from the Cannons in the bottom of the first inning, in one of the most unconventional ways. After Lumberjacks third baseman Kevin Rase hit one down the left field line Zach Pashcke rounded second but slipped, giving Cannons left fielder Grant Biggins a chance to gun him down going back to second. However, the fate immediately turned in the Lumberjacks favor in an instant when an overthrow by Biggins to second allowed Pashchke to come around and score the first run of the game. Rase advanced to third on the play then was knocked home by AJ Naha to make the score 2-0. The Lumberjacks would also see a misplay late in the game.
The Cannons would respond by tying the game in the fifth, as Game 1 would end up in extras. The Lumberjacks costly play came in the bottom of the eighth. After Isaac Smith led off the inning with a walk, Micah Barkenhagen singled to right. But Smith just overran second base and got gunned down by right fielder Garrick Levesque. Had Smith been safe at second the next two batters could have walked it off for the Lumberjacks. The next batter Elliot Hermann singled. This was followed by a walk to Dylan McKee which would have walked in Smith as the winning run. Instead the Cannons got the next batter Pashcke to ground into an inning ending double play.
One of the key players in turning that double play was second baseman Dj Killion, who came up with an even bigger play in the next inning. He blasted a go-ahead two-run homer to left. This would be the game winner as the Cannons emerged victorious in extras 5-2.
Game 2 was another pitcher’s duel into the fourth. The big hit for the Cannons came from catcher Brady Ingalls on a two-out double to left to give them a 2-0 lead. Ingalls also was big for them behind the plate as he managed to adjust to catching three different pitchers with very different deliveries in the game.
“They were all three very different pitchers,” said Ingalls. “Two were sidearm, one was a lefty sidearm, one was a righty sidearm and then one was another lefty over-the-top. It was a big adjustment coming into the game cause I hadn’t caught all three of these.” Ingalls guided all three pitchers through fine performances as each of them did not surrender more then two hits.
The big pitching moment came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Garrick Levesque who had been in right field in the previous game came in to pitch. He loaded the bases but with two outs he struck out Wil Matos on a breaking ball, a pitch that Ingalls knew he could trust his pitchers to throw in a risky bases loaded situation.
This ended up being the last at-bats of the game for the Lumberjacks as the game was called during the top of the seventh due to darkness. The Cannons emerged victorious 3-1 in Game 2 to sweep the doubleheader.
The team had everything working for them when it mattered most on the day, as they prevailed in two nail biters against a strong Lumberjacks team.