Baseball team out to prove itself
Despite being just two years removed from the Bulldogs’ last playoff appearance, only one Moffat County baseball player has any postseason experience. That doesn’t bother coach Scott Parker.
“Sometimes inexperience can be a good thing,” Parker said. “We can use that to our advantage because we just go and play.”
The Bulldogs are up against Cherokee Trail at 10 a.m. today in Aurora. The Cougars, who finished 15-3 and third in the Skyline League, were seeded eighth in the 32-team bracket released by the Colorado High School Activities Association on Thursday. The Bulldogs, 12-6, were seeded 25th.
“I was hoping for something in the mid-20s,” Parker said.
Two years ago, the Bulldogs were the 23rd seed, and they faced 10th-seeded Broomfield in the first game. They lost, 14-4. Senior Jared Lowther played in the game.
“We made too many mistakes from nerves,” Lowther said. “We just have to play baseball.”
Parker said his team has proven that it can play well in big-game situations against unknown teams.
“These kids hadn’t won a Triple Crown game at this level before,” he said. “Then we finished fifth in the nation this summer, and we beat some quality teams.”
On paper, Cherokee Trail’s quality comes from its pitchers. Tim Moore and Bradshaw Perry are in the top 10 of strikeouts in the state. Perry is third with 69 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched. Moore, Perry and David Miller have combined for 14 of the team’s wins.
Moffat will counter Cherokee Trail’s pitching with junior Bryan Wojtkiewicz. The Bulldogs’ left-handed ace is coming off four innings of shutout ball against Eagle Valley on Tuesday.
“I kept my pitch count low and felt good,” he said. “Four innings isn’t very much considering I look for a complete game every outing.”
Wojtkiewicz is in the top 15 in the state with his earned run average of 2.08. He has a 5-2 record.
The Cougars scored an average of 9.9 runs a game, and opponents averaged 2 1/2 runs.
The Bulldogs averaged 9.5 runs a game and allowed 5.7 runs.
Cherokee Trail finished third behind two Class 5A schools in the Skyline league. It lost two of its past five games, both against Class 5A Adams City.
Moffat County won four of its past five games with a 9-6 loss against Glenwood Springs.
The teams don’t have any common opponents, but for what it’s worth, they have indirect connections.
The Cougars lost to league rival Centaurus, 3-2, during the season. Centaurus split a doubleheader with Rifle, losing, 11-0, and winning, 9-8. Rifle defeated the Bulldogs, 6-1, 10-9, during the regular season.
Every time a Western Slope team travels east, the team is out for more than just a win. It’s out for respect. That’s no different in this case.
“We want to establish a name outside of our league,” Parker said. “We hope to show the Western Slope baseball is some of the best in the state.”
For motivation, Parker told his players that most of the Front Range schools don’t even know where Moffat County is.
CHSAA gave the top two WSL teams respect in the seeding. Both are hosting a district with a top-eight seed this weekend.
“If those teams are No. 1 seeds, we can play with anybody,” Parker said.
To play with anybody, Parker knows his team has to get the basics first.
“Teams on the Front Range are fundamentally sound,” he said. “You have to match that if you want a chance.”
Lowther said that, from his experience, Front Range teams capitalize quickly on mistakes.
“You can’t let the mistakes hurt you,” he said. “Broomfield really capitalized on our mistakes.”
Parker said one of his team’s positives is its ability to ap—-proach a game the right way mentally.
“We have an even mentality,” he said. “We’ve shown that a lot this year.”
The winner of the game will move on to face the winner ninth seeded Sand Creek (12-7) against 24th seeded Golden (12-7) Saturday.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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