LITTLETON — Evergreen baseball coach Terry Hensley threw his patchwork team to the Lions on July 7 and watched a valiant fight give way to a mauling.
With the top third of his lineup and two other playersmissing for various reasons, Hensley’s Cougars split a twilight doubleheader against the Littleton Lions after a 5-4 victory in eight innings and a 10-0 defeat that mercifully went just five innings.
It was the first Legion B league loss for the Cougars, who now lead the second-place Lions by three games and should lock up the league title this week and subsequent automatic berth in the playoffs.
Not that Hensley was celebrating after watching his young replacements and varsity veterans come unglued in the nightcap.
“It’s rough,” said shortstop Corey Murphy, who crushed a monster three-run home run in the fifth inning of the first game. “Coach Hensley doesn’t take it very well. He kind of gets on every single one of us, and then we just try to battle back and do what we can.”
No one endured the pendulum of emotion like Parker Coffer.
Coffer’s double to the wall in left field scored Murphy for the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning in the first game. Coffer started on the mound in the second game and gave up five runs in the first and was relieved with no outs in the second inning after he walked successive batters to load the bases.
“I just wasn’t on,” Coffer said. “We had a few days off and I just wasn’t on and they were hitting me ee It just seemed like everything was not going our way.”
Coffer got tagged for eight runs on five hits. Clearly rattled, the lanky right-hander strode off the mound after retiring the second out of the first inning thinking he had gotten the third out. The next batter hit a home run to right field.
“It was just one thing after another that left everyone on their heels,” he said. “I don’t think anyone wanted to be out there after I gave up five runs.”
No matter how terse Hensley was with his team afterwards, he couldn’t help but praise their effort in the first game.
“In a close game, to scratch that win out, I’m extremely happy and proud of those kids that did that,” he said.
Evergreen will host the Legion B league tournament on July 17. The playoffs begin July 24.
Game 1 highlights
Evergreen starter Caleb Garbus gave up two runs in the bottom of the first and rebounded to pitch three scoreless innings before running into more trouble. Garbus gave up two more runs in the bottom of the fifth as Littleton tied the game 4-4 before Tom Aramovich took over and held the Lions at bay for the remainder of the 5-4 victory.
Randy Rosswog hit an RBI single to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third inning before Murphy gave the visitors the lead with one swing of the bat in the fifth.
Austin Elmgreen reached base via an error and Rosswog drew a walk to set the stage for the shortstop. Murphy turned on the first pitch and powdered it over the wall and past a retaining wall in right field.
Murphy then led off the eighth inning with a single to center field and was moved to second by Ethan Murphy’s sacrifice bunt. Two batters later it was Coffer driving the ball to the wall in left despite a strong prevailing wind.
Corey Murphy finished 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs, Coffer was 2-for-4 and Garbus was 2-for-3. Aramovich got the win.
Game 2 highlights
Coffer walked one batter, gave up a two-run home run, two doubles and a single in the first inning as the Lions roared out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back.
All the mojo and moxie that had been working in the Cougars’ favor in the first game was nowhere to be found this time. Balls were hit just inches from the gloves or found soft spots in the defense.
The Cougars got no such breaks at the plate as they twice hit into double plays and scratched out just five hits – all singles.
Devin Riley was the lone bright spot as he went 2-for-2 at the plate.