Cougars have success against Eagles’ ace but still fall short

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By Brian Forbes

ARVADA — The Evergreen Cougars did some unusual things March 14 against Faith Christian ace Pierce Johnson.

Travis Coe ripped a single off the right-handed hurler to start the game and the Cougars would load the bases with no outs. Connor Hoagland came up with a RBI single later in the first inning as the Cougars took a 3-0 lead.

It bears mentioning that Johnson began the season by pitching a perfect game, and the senior was just a wild pitch shy of a perfect game last season. Two pro scouts were there to watch him throw his fastball that hit the radar gun around 90 miles per hour and a curve and slider that pounded in the low 80s.

The Cougars would manufacture a run against Johnson in the top of the fifth and Justin Barr had the audacity to steal second on him and took off a few pitches later for third on a hit-and-run.

The Cougars did a lot of good things against Johnson, except win. Johnson found his rhythm and the Eagles came up with two key home runs as Evergreen fell to a 5-4 nonleague defeat.

“I liked the fact that we came out and scored three runs right away. That is motivation. That is the factor that should propel us through the seven innings,” Cougars skipper Terry Hensley said. “But after that we allowed him to make an adjustment, and being the great player that he is, he did. I don’t know if we were happy with it or satisfied, but we didn’t make the adjustments that he did. That’s what I’m disappointed in.”

The Cougars led until the bottom of the fourth when an error and some small ball by the Eagles plated two runs to give the home team a 4-3 lead.

Evergreen tied it in the top of the fifth, but the Eagles got the go-ahead run in the sixth on a two-out home run to center field off reliever Corey Murphy that shattered a window at Faith Christian High School.

Johnson stayed in to pitch in the seventh and ended the game by striking out Coe for the second time. Johnson struck out 11, walked one and gave up the four runs on just three hits.

“First inning he didn’t have his curve balls in, his sliders,” Coe said of Johnson. “Second inning he was able to adjust and we weren’t able to adjust to his sliders and we were sitting on his fastballs.”

Hoagland had the best line against Johnson as he went 1-for-3 but drove in two runs when he hit a hard shot off the end of the second baseman’s outstretched glove.

Caleb Garbus started on the mound for the Cougars and battled through a tough first inning. After getting the Eagles’ leadoff hitter to fly out to Zach Petrik, Garbus threw 10 straight balls en route to walking the bases loaded. Garbus snapped out of it and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

The Eagles would strand 10 baserunners and could only chip away until the fourth inning.

Garbus gave up four runs – three earned – on four hits while striking out five and walking three.

“Our pitching staff right now, at this point in the season, has done a very good job,” Hensley said.

“I think anytime you hold a team to five runs, you should be able to win in high school baseball with aluminum bats,” Hensley added. “If we learn from it and get better, it was a worthwhile loss … if there’s anything in my vocabulary that talks about a good loss, which there isn’t.”

Evergreen    300 010 0 4 3 1ee

Faith Christian    011 201 x     5 7 2ee

Evergreen: Coe 2b 4-1-1-0, Jones 3b 2-1-0-0, Murphy ss-rp 2-1-0-0, Rosswog rf 3-0-0-1, Coffer 1b 3-0-0-0, Hoagland dh 3-0-1-2, Elmgreen lf 0-0-0-0, Garbus sp 2-0-0-0, Daly ss 1-0-0-0, Petrik cf 3-0-0-0, Aramovich c 3-0-1-0, Barr cr-1b 0-1-0-0. Totals 26-4-3-3.eeE – Coffer (catch). LOB – Evergreen 3, Faith Christian 10. SB – Barr.eeGarbus, Murphy (4) and Aramovich. L – Murphy (0-1). HBP – Jones (by Johnson in first). T – 1:43.