When he stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning, Evergreen’s Ethan Murphy nearly came out of his shoes on his first swing.
It certainly looked like he was swinging for the fences.
Turns out, that’s exactly what he was doing.
Before his at-bat, Murphy told his teammates he was going to hit a home run and end the game. With a 3-1 count, Murphy unleashed another powerful swing and made solid contact, sending the ball screaming over the center field wall, ending the Cougars’ March 23 contest with rival Conifer in five innings, 15-4 at Evergreen High School.
“I was just looking for the right pitch,” said Murphy, who drove in five runs on a windy afternoon. “I swung and missed big at that first pitch high and inside. It felt good, though; it was my first one of the season.”
After a scoreless first inning, the Cougars were jolted to life when the upstart Lobos put three runs on the board in the top of the second. Evergreen responded with three runs of its own to draw even, then blew the doors open in the third, scoring eight runs.
The Cougars sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and had eight hits. Travis Coe had two hits, Corey Murphy walked twice (he added a leadoff triple in the fifth) and Ethan Murphy had a two-run double and an RBI single.
Sam Jones knocked in a pair of base runners with a single in the fourth, setting the stage for Murphy’s game-ending homer.
“You could tell we were a little sleepy to begin the game,” Murphy said. “After we started to hit the ball, we got into the game.”
While the Evergreen bats certainly did damage, the strong winds also wreaked havoc with the Conifer defense, which missed several fly balls and had a few pitches sail wide of the intended target when caught up in a gust.
Still, despite the loss, first-year coach Chad Ducklow saw a few silver linings.
“We came out and hit the ball hard,” Ducklow said. “We made a few mistakes in the field and our pitching was solid overall. Evergreen’s a great team; they have a lot of upperclassmen and we have a lot of young guys on our team.
“I’m proud of our guys, they came out and battled.”