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Cougars outhit Lobos in season-opening victory

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By Alissa Noe

LAKEWOOD — Throughout much of the offseason, the Evergreen baseball team had worked to maintain its success coming off last year’s state title game run. 

On Thursday at All-Star Park, that hard work paid off when the Cougars downed their mountain rivals, Conifer, 14-4 in five innings.

With 15 hits, their bats were hot the whole game.

“We just came out wanting to hit the ball hard because we’ve been talking about it all season,” senior Ethan Stiles said. “We just wanted to … come out and get a ‘W.’”

The Lobos, on the other hand, got away with just three hits and scored all but one of their runs off a meltdown from Evergreen starting pitcher Paul Schreffler, who walked three straight runners home.

“He had the flu earlier in the week, so his bullpen sessions were somewhat limited,” said Evergreen head coach John Lipka of Schreffler’s performance on the mound. “But we decided to leave him in to really gain his control back and his confidence. It was the right move because we’re trying to develop him for the season and hopefully for a college career.”

For the Cougars, Stiles led the way with four RBIs, followed by Bryce Pearson (three) and Charlie Hilgers (two). Eight of the nine players batted in a run. For Conifer, Jackson Hale, Arden Taber, David Jacobson and Joe Mead shared the scoring responsibility equally.

“I just think it shows that we haven’t had the same time to put in,” Conifer senior David Jacobson said. “We just got on our field. We haven’t been able to practice as long as them; they’ve been practicing all year. They just came out with a better mindset, I think.”

The Cougars got off to a quick start, earning their first run off a double from senior Jack Patterson in just their third at-bat. Two batters later, Stiles punched in another after being thrown out at first. Evergreen got the early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

The Cougars worked up a 4-0 lead before the Lobos responded in the third inning.

In the third, Schreffler lost control as he walked four straight batters — one through hit-by-pitch — to send three guys home. Aside from an RBI single from Jackson Hale the next inning, those were the only runs the Lobos were able to secure.

“To be honest, they threw a couple good pitchers at us and we didn’t really look that overmatched at the plate. I’m not that upset,” Conifer head coach Justin DeBerry said. “They’re a good team, and they’re talented and strong every year. They were in the state championship last year, and they could compete for the state title again this year. 

“We’re developing. We got a lot of young guys. We just didn’t play very clean. We probably could have stayed in the game a little better, but there were plays we didn’t make, the routine stuff. ... We just got a long way to go right now.”

After the first game of the season, the Lobos lost their next matchup to Woodland Park, 10-6, and play next against Golden on Thursday at 3:30 at home. The Cougars went on to win their second game against Fountain-Fort Carson 10-7 and take the field next at Eagle Valley on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

“I think we have a little bit to work on, but I think it was a good start. The kids have worked really hard, and it shows,” Lipka said. “I think it’s our hitting strategy. We’re trying to be aggressive at the plate but disciplined. It’s easy to coach. They do well.”