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Offense lifts Cougars past Lobos 13-4

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Four-run second-inning lifts Evergreen baseball past Conifer in rivalry showdown

By Sullivan A

CONIFER -- Good pitching and timely hitting can win you a lot of baseball games. Evergreen found that out Monday afternoon as it defeated rival Conifer 13-4 at Conifer High School.
Jack Hudd took the mound with elements that usually haunt pitchers. With cold temperatures and high wind pitchers typically have a tough time staying in a good flow, but not Hudd. The right-hander made quick work of the Lobos in his four innings of work, giving up just two hits while fanning two. 
“Anytime you play Conifer the nerves kick in,” stated Hudd. “Seeing my team get a lead early really gave me confidence and I was able to settle in. The game plan was just to come in and throw strikes. Everything was working for me tonight and hopefully I can continue that for the rest of the season.”
Evergreen’s hitters backed their pitcher by putting runs on the board early, giving the team confidence. In the top of the first inning, Lucan Berninzoni led off with a walk and later scored, giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Conifer struggled in the bottom half as Hudd was able to sit them down in order, throwing just nine pitches.
Evergreen continues its strong showing at the plate in the top half of the second inning. A Conifer error put a Cougar on base, followed by a walk and a double set Berninzoni up with two on and one out. He looked calm in the batter’s box as he drilled a ball into center field, plating two as Evergreen led 5-0 after the second frame.
The Cougars continued to hit the ball hard in the middle innings as Jack Patterson doubled in his final three at-bats of the game. Evergreen struck for two additional runs in the third inning, followed by three in the fourth inning as it led 11-0 going into the bottom of fifth inning.
“I was very happy with the offense,” said Evergreen head coach Steve Jones. “We were squaring the ball up, but we still have a few things to work on and clean up if we want to make some noise and make a postseason run.”
Despite needing two runs to keep the game going, Conifer had a calm demeanor in the batter’s box. The Lobos earned three straight walks to load the bases with no outs, forcing the Cougars to make a pitching change.
Evergreen turned to Ben Muscatello, who nearly worked out of the jam. Muscatello struck out the first two hitters he faced, but the third hit a check-swing triple down the right-field line, clearing the bases as Conifer trailed 11-3.
 “We were one pitch away from a shutout,” said Jones. “We let that get away from us, but overall I thought we did a nice job.”
Evergreen responded with one run in both the sixth and seventh innings as Conifer was unable to pull any closer.
“Anytime you beat Conifer it’s huge,” explained Hudd. “We have a lot of fans that come out to this game and a lot of us have played together, so it’s a fun win.”
With the win, Evergreen is now 2-0. The Cougars will face Castle View on Wednesday. Conifer (1-2) will meet Golden on the road Thursday night.
 Evergreen 1 4 2 3 1 1 1 – 13
Conifer     0 0 0 0 3 0 1 – 4