Summer baseball can be a bit different than regular-season baseball. Coaches use summer ball to reconfigure their teams after graduating seniors leave and young freshmen join. Coaches suss out players’ strengths, determining who can play which position.
That’s exactly what Littleton High School head coach Micah “Bernie” Bernhardt did during the Lions’ home doubleheader against the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) on June 15 en route to a pair of five-inning victories — 10-0 in Game 1 and 17-3 in the nightcap.
In their second game, Bernhardt used three pitchers — rising senior Ryan Ireland and juniors Nick McNamee and Charlie Craig. Craig normally plays second base and Ireland catches. Neither had pitched in a game before now.
The move to tryout new pitchers might have been a dicey gamble against a team such as Columbine, which beat the Lions 12-7 at the end of the regular season. But it paid off in spades against DSST.
“(Winning in our) league, which is arguably the best league in the state, comes down to pitching,” Bernhardt said. “We gotta have pitchers that throw strikes. We can’t afford to give some of the other teams in our league free runs, free passes. It all boils down to pitching.”
Craig pitched the first three innings of Game 2. Although many of his pitches were high, allowing DSST all three of its runs, Craig managed to shut down 14 batters. But Craig wasn’t the only one putting on a show.
Junior right fielder Christian Jansky made a circus catch off of DSST junior Nico Martinez to close the fourth inning when Martinez hit a line drive.
“We made sound defensive plays and we were in the right spots when they needed to be,” Bernhardt said.
“Our boys played the right way. They played well against a team that is still trying to figure out how to work together, and sometimes in a situation like that, especially when the score is so lopsided, teams can stop playing hard and lose focus and our kids didn’t do that,” Bernhardt said.