By Ben Rossi
Amongst the excitement surrounding the game of baseball colliding with the State of Colorado throughout the week, the Spradley Collegians and Colorado Lumberjacks put up a pair exhilarating seven-inning showcases for their families, the Pueblo community, and several high schoolers who were down in Pueblo for the upcoming Tony Andenucio Memorial Tournament.
Each team’s victory was a comeback in the seventh and final at-bats. These were bound to be good matchups as each team came into the games at a crowded fourth and fifth place in the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League standings.
In Game 1 the Lumberjacks got off to a 3-0 lead in the second, but the Collegians responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Lumberjacks starting pitcher Tyler Smith and Collegians starter Ty Addington looked nearly identical in their outings. Smith went 5.2 innings giving up three runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking just two. The latter went six innings and gave up four runs on seven hits while striking out eight and walking none. Good pitching would mean good news for the Collegians.
“Once our pitching has taken care of business then I think that our hitting follows them,” said Collegians shortstop Kyle Jameson. The team finally gave Addington that much needed tying run when Jameson lined a hard single centerfield. This scored Ryan Downs tying the game 3-3.
While the Lumberjacks took a 4-3 lead in the fifth, it was hard to see the Collegians going down without a fight. They had the top of their order coming up in the bottom of the seventh.
A leadoff base hit by ninth place hitter Conrad Holmes set up for the top of the order. They came out swinging aggressively with two base hits, including a game-tying RBI one by Downs to make the score 4-4. Runners were also able to advance thanks to a couple of wild pitches. This set up for a game-winning RBI single by Brodie Blackford, sealing their ninth inning comeback with a 5-4 victory in front of an amused crowd.
Game 2 would feature big games from the top of the Collegians order, but an especially big one from one of the premiere performers in the league, Lumberjacks first baseman Elliot Hermann.
After getting the first RBI of the night in Game 1, he got the first RBI in Game 2 for the Lumberjacks on a single to left, the first of his four RBI’s in the game. Hermann has been particularly successful at getting guys home this season as he leads the MHCBL with 21 RBI’s on the season. But he did much more then hit on the night.
Hermann continued the trend that the league and the world of baseball seems to be getting accustomed to, the hitting pitcher. Although for Hermann we was more of a pitching hitter. He came in to pitch in the fifth in relief for Geiger and gave up two unearned runs in two innings of work.
“Gotta do what I gotta do for the team,” said Hermann on coming in to pitch. “I love it let the pitchers hit,” he added on the recent trend.
But his main focus was getting the barrel on the ball which he got the golden opportunity to do in the top of the seventh and did not disappoint. With the Lumberjacks trailing 6-4 Hermann came up as the winning run with two men on base and on the first pitch smashed a three-run-homer to left to cap off his huge night and suddenly give the Lumberjacks a 7-6 lead.
The Collegians got one more chance to bat in the bottom of the inning but were retired 1,2,3 by closer Eric Cox, who bounced back after blowing a save opportunity in the previous game. This game was bound to be the biggest event in the MHCBL season and both games lived up to their name. The season will now wind down to its last week of play.