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LAKEWOOD — Earl Weaver, former Major League Baseball manager and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, had a theory when it came to momentum on the baseball field.
“Momentum is only as good as the next day’s starter (pitcher),” Weaver famously said back in 1985.
While momentum can be fleeting, the one thing Arvada West and Green Mountain baseball teams were looking for April 3 at Keli McGregor Field at All Star Park was a shot in the arm before heading into conference play this week.
A-West (2-7 record) came away with a much-needed forward push with an 11-7 victory over Green Mountain (3-5).
“We needed this,” Arvada West coach Matt McDougal said after the win ended a 3-game losing streak for the Wildcats. “I thought down in Tucson we got better. The scores didn’t show it, but I thought we got better. We are still at the point where we can’t make mistakes to hurt ourselves.”
A-West went 1-4 in its annual spring break trip to Arizona after opening season losses to Mountain Vista, No. 1 in the current 5A baseball CHSAANow.com rankings, and Poudre.
The key for A-West against Green Mountain was a 6-run top of the third inning. The Wildcats were able to open up a 8-0 lead while taking advantage of a handful of Ram miscues on defense.
“I’m hoping we start getting those breaks,” McDougal said of the Wildcats taking advantage of Ram errors in the big third inning. “So far we’ve been the one on the short end of the breaks. We got a few today. Hopefully that continues.”
Green Mountain did score 6 unanswered runs to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 8-6 going into the final two innings. However, A-West put up three runs in the top of the seventh inning to give senior pitcher Trent Cook a 11-6 lead going to the Rams’ half of the seventh.
Dominic Folks, Scotty Novotny, Trevor Cook and Vinson Britton punched out four straight hits for the A-West to seal the victory in the final inning. Junior Jackson German picked up the win going five innings and Cook picked up the save working the final two innings on the hill.
“Getting this week in huge,” said Britton, who drove in the Wildcats’ final run with an RBI single. “We are going to start getting some momentum going into league. The league is the biggest part.”
Green Mountain junior Michael Busse singled and scored in the final frame, but it wasn’t enough as the Rams couldn’t overcome the early deficit.
“We didn’t quit, but we made way too many mental and physical errors,” Green Mountain coach Brad Kidwell said. “A-West’s bats came alive in that last inning. That kind of iced it.”
Kidwell is back for his second stint at the helm of Green Mountain’s baseball program where he coached more than a decade ago. He also spent four years at Bear Creek and was last an assistant coach at Colorado Christian University before returning to the high school ranks.
Green Mountain has the tall task of playing in the tough 4A Jeffco League that features returning state champion Valor Christian, state runner-up Evergreen, along with solid teams from Golden, Littleton and Standley Lake that are off to hot non-league starts.
“We aren’t going to have any easy games,” Kidwell said of the 4A Jeffco League. “We are a young team, so we are trying to get better every week. That is all you can do.”
The Rams opened conference play at Golden on April 9.
A-West dove into its 5A Jeffco League schedule with games against Bear Creek and Columbine on Tuesday and Thursday this week.
“Whatever our record is right now doesn’t really matter,” McDougal said. “It’s about can we win today, can we win Saturday and get going when we get into league next week.”
Dennis Pleuss is a communications specialist at Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco
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