American author Sam Keen, not the former Evergreen High student-athlete with the same name, once said, “deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” Thank goodness he never played baseball for Evergreen head baseball coach Matt Erholtz because that mentality wouldn’t fly.
Erholtz coached the Cougars to a 12-2 victory over Columbine’s Batter’s Box in Game 1 of a doubleheader on July 7. Evergreen dropped Game 2 by a 13-3 score.
Maybe it was the break from the heat wave or the intoxicatingly cool breeze that distracted the teams, but no matter the reason both Erholtz and Batter’s Box head coach Jerry Nave weren’t too keen on their team’s lack of focus.
“They get too laid back in summer and aren’t prepared to play, but I’m happy with their performance (in Game 1),” Erholtz said.
Erholtz was particuarly pleased with senior pitcher Jack Drumright’s performance on the mound and at the plate. Drumright scored three of the Cougars’ 12 runs in the first game, while managing to keep Batter’s Box scoreless through five innings.
Drumright’s last run came in the bottom of the fifth inning. With nobody on base, Drumright singled to right field. Then sophomore pitcher Cameron Ziegler loaded the bases for junior Josh Ballatti. Ziegler was in a no-win situation.
Ballatti, who had walked in his previous at-bats, got under the ball this time and hit it deep to center field. The wind carried the sailing ball to the fence, allowing two runners to come home.
“They get down mentally when we get behind,” Nave said. “That’s one thing with all of those young players that we are trying to work on. No matter what the score is you still have to play the game. Even when you get behind the count like we did.”
The Cougars built their win off of Batter’s Box’ errors in the first game, stealing the momentum and energy. But the tides shifted in the second game and Evergreen was on the losing end of the momentum wave.
“(We) had too many walks and errors on our part with timely hits for them,” Erholtz said. “The game was close through three innings until we had some errors. We lost our focus and drive after that.”