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Questionable calls haunt Evergreen

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Cougars come up short in 5-2 loss to Mustangs

By Sullivan A

LAKEWOOD — Evergreen head coach Steve Jones isn’t one to make excuses. The veteran skipper knows a thing or two about baseball and understands when his team fails to capitalize on scoring chances. 

On Saturday, the Cougars had several chances to manufacture runs, but couldn’t overcome a tough pitching performance by Ponderosa’s Sam Beecher in a 5-2 loss at All-Star Park.

“I’ll be the first to admit we had opportunities to win this game,” explained Jones. “I’m sympathetic for our kids. They face a really good pitcher who was hard to hit today.”

While Beecher’s performance should be the story, it’s the umpires who made the biggest impact.

In the fifth inning, the Cougars had two runners on base when Beecher, who was set, touched his mouth. According to the National Federation of State High School Association rules, this should be a balk, resulting in base runners advancing. Instead, umpires gave Beecher a warning, which Jones disagreed with.

“It should have been a balk according to the rule book,” said Jones. “I told that to the umpire, but he said it was a warning. The next inning, I brought a rule book and showed him that it should have been a balk to which he told me to take my book and go back to the dugout.”

The Cougars again faced bad fortune in the seventh inning. With a runner on first and two outs, Ponderosa pitcher Phil Emmett made a pickoff throw to first with the umps granting him the out.

“The umpire was shielded from the play and wouldn’t ask for help,” explained Jones. “Our kid was safe. We had him by a several inches. I hate to say it but some calls just seemed vindictive today.”

As Jones stated, the loss wasn’t the result of just bad calls. Evergreen missed several scoring chances earlier in the game. One of those opportunities came in the fourth inning. Evergreen opened by loading the bases with no outs, but the next two batters swung at the first pitch of their at-bats, resulting in quick pop flies.

“That’s baseball 101,” said Jones. “We had their pitcher struggling a little bit. That’s a situation where our guys need to take a few pitches.”

Evergreen tallied two runs in the inning, but the damage was limited for Ponderosa. After getting out of the jam, Beecher settled into a groove. Combined with a wide strike zone from the umpires, this made for long at-bats for the Cougars.

“It’s tough when the zone seems to expand,” said Jones. “These are high school men who are developing emotionally. They were upset and getting frustrated, but againwehad chances.”

Third-ranked, Ponderosa (7-1) added insurance runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. Evergreen (6-4) was unable to overcome the deficit as it was shut out in the final three frames.

Evergreen fell to No. 7 Valor Christian on Monday night 8-2.

The Cougars return to the diamond today as they host Littleton. Evergreen will then face Wheat Ridge on Saturday.

MUSTANGS 5, COUGARS 2

Ponderosa 003 001 1 - 5-10-1

Evergreen 000 200 0 - 2-6-1

Evergreen batters: Ben Muscatello 2-3; Jack Patterson 1-3, RBI; Ryker Eagen 2-4; Ben Setlak 1-3

Pitching: Evergreen -- Andrew Stephens (LP)  4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K; Brett Bokelman 2 IP,  2 H, R, K; Jack Hudd 1 IP, 2 H, R, 2K; Ponderosa – Sam Beecher (WP) 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 10 K; Phil Emmett 1 IP, H

EAGLES 8, COUGARS 2

Evergreen 020 000 0 - 2

Valor 402 020 x - 8

 

Class 4A Rankings

1 Windsor 7-0

2 Northridge 10-1

3 Ponderosa 7-1

4 Cheyenne Mountain 8-0

5 Green Mountain 8-0

6 Denver North 9-0

7 Valor Christian 6-3

8 Mountain View 8-3

9 Wheat Ridge 6-2

10 Fort Morgan 7-2

RV: Air Academy, Evergreen, Longmont, Silver Creek, Holy Family, Summit, Golden, Falcon, Pueblo East, Pueblo West.