Photo by Tamie Meck
Paonia head coach Drew Potter congratulates Landon Long as he glides past third base after hitting a homerun against Cedaredge last week. The Eagles caught the visiting Bruins off guard with an 11-1 win in five innings.
Every team has its good days and its bad days. But when one team has its worst game of the season and another has its best, on the same field, one team is not going to be happy.
In last week's game between Cedaredge and Paonia, the Eagles had the good day, scoring six runs in their first seven at-bats. Landon Long led the fourth with a solo home run for the Eagles. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, KC Christian drove in pinch runner Jesse Gillenwater. With Tyler Kendall at bat and the winning run on third, "I had all the confidence in the world" that Kendall would score Christian from third, said Paonia head coach Drew Potter. "I knew we were in good shape."
Kendall was confident, too. "I just feel relaxed," said Kendall, who had three RBIs for the night, including a walk-off single to score Christian and end the game at 1-11 in five innings.
The outcome was unexpected for both teams.
The Bruins' sole run came in the top of the third when Sam Williamson hit a double between left and center fields. Pete Williamson drove Sam home on a double to left field.
"We went into the game fully expecting to compete with Paonia," e-mailed Bruins coach Randy Brown, who called the game the worst of the season for his team. Cedaredge came into the game with a 10-1 record in league play and in first place in 3A Western Slope standings. The Bruins had only 20 runs scored against them in the past nine games. "We felt that we were right in there with them."
Paonia is undefeated in 2A WSL competition, with their only losses going to 4A teams and 3A Hotchkiss. The win wasn't the biggest for the Eagles in terms of points, but, "was the biggest win of our season so far," said Potter.
It was the fourth win of the season for pitcher Derek Heiniger, who allowed the Bruins only six hits, including two doubles. Heiniger, who threw only one strike-out, gave much of the credit to the defense.
The Bruins threatened to score in the top of the fourth. With runners on first and second with no outs, shortstop KC Christian snagged a grounder for a double play. Heiniger started the top of the fifth with a strikeout, and the Bruins never threatened to score.
"It feels good," said Heiniger, a senior who remembers the 10-0 beating the Eagles took from the Bruins a year earlier. "It was our last game at home and we're proud of how it came out."
A varsity player since sophomore year, Heiniger said he entered his junior season unprepared to pitch. The team had a solid pitcher in Casey Gillenwater, and he didn't foresee a lot of time on the mound. "I didn't take it seriously enough," said Heiniger. "It turned out we needed it. This year, I got my arm in shape. I'm throwing a lot harder this season." And he's prepared to throw a complete game. He threw just over 80 pitches against Cedaredge, walking only one, and said he was ready to go the full seven innings.
"My hat's off to Paonia," said Brown. "They were ready to play from the first pitch." He credited the Eagle defense for taking away some "sure base hits" with good positioning.
Brown said that his team had a great practice on Tuesday, "And Wednesday was our best practice of the year. In years past we have always bounced back from a middle-of-the-season loss and we will do the same again."
Paonia Sweeps MHS
With just one week remaining in regulation play, Paonia continues to dominate the Western Slope League after overwhelming the Cowboys in Saturday's doubleheader at Meeker.
The Eagles opened with eight runs in two innings against the Cowboys, then wrapped it up with eight runs in the seventh to win 17-3. KC Christian and Tyler Kendall both hit homers. Derek Heiniger and Kendall pitched two innings and four strikeouts each, and Landon Long closed with seven Ks for the win.
In game two, Taylor Katzer had 10 Ks in five innings for the 18-0 win. Adrian Lopez was two for four with two RBIs and Long was two for three, including a triple and a double, and scored three runs. Dustin Braslin, Keaton Kropp and Heiniger were also two for three, with Braslin scoring three runs.
With one week remaining before district playoffs, the Eagles are now 11-5-1 overall and 6-0 in WSL competition. They face Rangely this Saturday, at Rangely.
District tournaments will be held the weekend of May 5.