Granby " Panther baseball team clobbers longtime rival Goldiggers 16-4 | SkyHiNews.com

Granby " Panther baseball team clobbers longtime rival Goldiggers 16-4

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

After falling into a slump, Middle Park High’s baseball team emerged to win a solid victory over a longtime rival last week.

On Wednesday, April 2, the Panthers whipped Clear Creek 16-4 on the Golddiggers’ Idaho Springs ballfield. The game did not go the full seven innings of regulation play because the Colorado High School Association’s 10-run “mercy rule” went into effect in the fourth inning.

The win was a welcome change for Middle Park’s ballplayers who had lost two consecutive doubleheaders to Faith Christian and Bishop Machebeuf, a couple of the state’s top teams. That victory is renewing hopes the Panthers can regain their early-season momentum that saw them win five straight games.

“In our game against Clear Creek, we did an outstanding job of hitting the baseball,” said coach James Newberry. “We had tweaked our batting lineup a little bit, and I’d say it paid off immediately.”

As the game in Idaho Springs opened, Middle Park’s batters went to work, putting two runs up on the scoreboard at the top of the first inning. Alex Morrow and Justen Strang both got on base with singles and then advanced on a sacrifice fly hit by P.J. Cross.

Both base runners then scored on singles batted consecutively by Chad Sprague and Jordan Reynolds.

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When they came up to bat in the bottom of the first inning, the Golddiggers matched Middle Park’s two runs with two of their own. But after that, it was the Panthers who dominated the rest of the game.

At the top of the second inning, Morrow walked and Strang singled. They then scored after Cross blasted a double into the outfield to put the Panthers into the lead by two runs.

The third inning proved to be a big one for the Panthers. They went on a scoring spree that netted them seven runs.

It began after the bases were loaded and Morrow stepped to the plate to belt a double that drove in Reynolds and Matt Hydrusko. Strang then kept the momentum going by batting a single that allowed Sutton and Morrow to race to home plate.

Strang kept the pressure on the defense by stealing second base, but soon ran home to score after Cross singled.

Cross was not left stranded on first base for very long because Moore then blasted the ball off the right center field fence in a double that drove him in to score. Moore soon scored the team’s seventh run of the third inning after Mike Stefanski batted another double.

Quickly shutting down Clear Creek’s offense, Middle Park’s offense soon returned to action at the top of the fourth inning, when the Panthers racked up five more runs.

Middle Park’s fourth-inning scoring bonanza began slowly with two outs on the scoreboard. Morrow started it with a single, but soon made it to home plate after Strang blasted a triple. Cross then followed Strang on base after getting a walk.

With runners at first and third, Moore hit a single to score Strang. Stefanski was up next and batted a triple that earned two RBIs as Cross and Moore raced across home plate. The team’s fifth run of the inning was made by Stefanski who was driven in by a double batted by Sprague.

At the bottom of the fourth inning, Middle Park brought in some of its junior varsity to get playing time on defense. Clear Creek was able to earn two more runs, but the Panthers held them, which forced the CHSAA “10-run mercy rule” to go into effect, ending further play.

Middle Park’s pitching was divided among four pitchers. Newberry described Stefanski’s pitching of 1-2/3 inning as a “highlight” after he earned four strikeouts and allowed no walks.

“It was a good win over an old mountain high school rival,” Newberry said. “It was a non-league game and just perfect in timing to prepare us for more upcoming Metro League games.”

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