By Ben Rossi
Scoring early and often is a recipe for success that teams should strive for as it takes a major weight off a team’s starter for the duration of the game. The Boulder Collegians success as one of the top teams in the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League this season has stemmed from their ability to score in this fashion.
“When you score early and often it really takes the wind out of the sails for the other team,” said Collegians center fielder Ryan Vogel. The Collegians continued this formula as they took early leads in both games. This would result in strong starting pitching performances and ultimately a doubleheader sweep of the Colorado Lumberjacks on Wednesday.
The Collegians first score in Game 1 came on an RBI base hit to right by first baseman Brady Miguel to score shortstop Jon Jon Gazdar. They would score two more in the fourth, and one more in the sixth. The Lumberjacks responded by getting on the board with one run in the bottom half of the sixth but the Collegians got that run back in the seventh. Their five runs would be more then enough as they got five solid innings of one hit, seven strikeout ball from starter Grayson Gifford.
Gifford got off to a commanding start, striking out the side with his fastball curveball mix in the bottom of the first. He did not stumble from there, constantly coming back with strikes whenever he fell behind in counts.
“Slider felt really good today, located it pretty much everywhere I wanted too, same with the curveball,” said Gifford. “Fastball felt very good, consistent, velo was there and I just know when I have guys in the field behind me that do their job that I can be in my zone and do my thing.” While one error was committed by the Collegians in the third, the team quickly recovered and played shutdown defense. This aided them in their Game 1 5-2 victory.
Similar defensive support was crucial in the second game for lefty starter Ian Isdale, who was returning from an injury. Despite only striking out one batter and walking five through five innings of work, Isdale was able to keep the Collegians off the board. He held them to weak contact when it mattered most getting out of three different jams with runners on third.
“You feel confident just putting the ball over the plate letting your stuff work, and if you get a ground ball you know your guys are gonna make a play for you,” said Isdale on how his defensive dependability impacted his start. “It gives you that confidence to just keep pounding the zone, keep throwing strikes. You trust your guys and they trust you back.” Isdale’s outing along with timely at-bats led the Collegians to a 5-1 victory in Game 2 and two-game sweep.
The Collegians will look to continue to play well as a collective unit this weekend as they host a team with the same name in the Spradley Collegians on Friday.