Rebels bop Bears, keep pace in Jeffco

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By Dan Johnson

LAKEWOOD — The goal for Morgan Blatnik on April 12 was simple.

Find a way, any way, to get on base.

Blatnik did just that – four times. The result was two runs scored and another two batted in (thanks to consecutive opposite-field doubles) that helped key Columbine’s offensive outburst against Class 5A Jefferson County League opponent Bear Creek.

The Rebels scored 10 of their 11 runs in the first four innings, and thanks to a strong effort from relief pitcher Scott Anundsen, improved to 4-1 in Jeffco League play with an 11-7 win April 12 at Bear Creek High School.

“I just wanted to get on base, it didn’t matter how I did it,” said Blatnik, who was 3-for-4 on the day. “There are great hitters on this team behind me that can drive me in.”

One of those sluggers is first baseman, Curtis Cunningham. In the first inning, the University of Colorado-bound Cunningham blasted the baseball over the right-centerfield wall for a three-run home run, giving the visitors a quick 3-0 lead.

Bear Creek’s Eric Mattingly answered Cunningham’s homer with one of his own, tying the game up in the bottom half of the inning.

The two teams would trade runs back and forth over the next two innings before Columbine (4-1 Jeffco, 7-6 overall) finally gave itself some breathing room. Kyler Brady drove in a run with a single and Blatnik’s first of two doubles plated another run, putting the Rebels up 10-6.

Danny Spond, who started the game for Columbine, was relieved by Anundsen to start the bottom half of the fourth and the senior right-hander quickly mowed down the Bears in order, allowing the Rebels to enjoy a bit of breathing room. In his four innings of work, Anundsen allowed just one run on three hits.

“We know we can count on Scotty in those situations,” Columbine coach Chuck Gillman said. “We’d like to start him, but we have a lot of inexperience on our pitching staff and we’re not comfortable with those guys coming into late-game situations.

“With Scotty, you know what you’re getting each time he takes the mound. They are a very good offensive team and he did a really good job of shutting down their lineup.”

Bear Creek (3-2, 7-6) had no such luck in slowing down the Rebels’ offense April 12.

In addition to Blatnik and Cunningham (2-for-3, four RBIs), shortstop Jeff Cicchinelli was 2-for-4 with an RBI – coming off a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt in the third inning. Seven of Columbine’s nine starters finished with at least one hit.

“We’ve talked so much about how we can’t just rely on the big bats in the middle of the lineup,” Gillman said. “It was nice to see us spread things around a bit.”

The Rebels play rival Chatfield at 11 a.m. April 19 at Chatfield Senior High School.

“Every team in Jeffco is tough,” Blatnik said. “You have to come out ready to play every game or else you’re going to get beat.”