Baseball is at its best when each team plays hard through-and-through, regardless of what’s at stake, purely for the love of the great game. The Colorado Lumberjacks and Northern Colorado Roughnecks both embodied this in Sunday’s thrilling nine inning affair at Horizon high school.
No team had anything to play for as the Boulder Collegians had already secured themselves as the the season champions of the league. But both teams were there for the same reason, to play baseball.
The game went completely back-and-forth. After the Roughnecks took an early 1-0 lead in the second, the Lumberjacks responded by scoring five unanswered runs. Only this 5-1 lead would slip due to some control issues by Lumberjacks pitcher Conner Cuminsky who walked three batters in the inning eventually leading to a big two-run double by left fielder RJ LaRocco who would go on to have the biggest of days for the Roughnecks, producing four RBI’s on three hits.Two batters later the Roughnecks tied the game up on an error by Micah Barkenhagen out in right.
The Lumberjacks however responded with a nearly identical top of the sixth inning. An error, plus three walks including one that walked in a run set up for one of the most dangerous power hitters in the league in clutch situations, Elliott Hermann. Hermann lived up to his name again clearing the bases with a three-run RBI double to give the Lumberjacks what looked at the time like a commanding 9-5 lead. The lead was even extended to 11-5 in the inning.
The Roughnecks however made a dramatic comeback in the sixth and seventh innings, even pulling ahead 12-11 in the seventh. But the Roughnecks were not the only team with late game miracles in them. The Lumberjacks showed no quit as they tied the game up in the ninth then took a three-run lead due to control issues by Roughnecks pitcher Braedan Martinez.
But with the way the day was going there was no counting out the Roughnecks in their bottom half of the inning. Isaac Smith who had two RBI’s in the game as the Lumberjacks starting centerfielder came in to close the game out on the mound in the bottom of the ninth. He initially struggled to find the zone as the trend of walking batters continued.
What made matters even more threatening was a two-run RBI double by Brandon Aragon to lower the deficit to 15-14 and have the winning run standing at third. But the late surge came up short this time as Tyler Hamill lined out for the Roughnecks, to close out a 15-14 Lumberjacks victory.
But both teams showed great poise and competitiveness till the end, even with the game having no impact on the teams playoff or season fates. This is something the MHCBL wants to see as they are both a league of competition and development.