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Slow start, soft bats doom young Chargers

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By Brian Forbes

Summer baseball is always about fresh faces.

For the Chatfield Chargers, who have been among and flirted with the state’s elite the past three seasons, you’ll definitely need a roster to follow along this summer.

“We had returning experience for the past three years — real good, all-league caliber players coming back,” coach Mike Yansack said Friday. “That gives you a little bit of leadership and gives you those guys who have been there. This is a situation where we are completely reloading, outside of two guys.”

Those young Chargers started slow and picked up steam when it was too late as they lost 6-3 to the Wheat Ridge Farmers. Starting pitcher Matthew Miks had one of those nightmare first innings and the Chargers were down 4-0 and in a funk that would take them four innings to shake out of.

Using wood bats, the Chargers had seven hits — all singles — and stranded nine base runners. The top of the order was the source of most the production, as leadoff hitter Addison Ives was 2-for-4, and center fielder Connor Blevins was 3-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base.

“I think the offense hurt us as much as the early start on the mound,” Yansack said.

Miks, a left-hander with a great first pitch, could not find his groove to start the game. Miks got up 0-2 in the count to Wheat Ridge’s first batter, then walked him on four straight pitches.

Miks would walk six of the first nine batters he faced, and three times issued walks with the bases loaded. The Farmers had just one hit in the first inning but scored four runs – all with two outs.

The first inning took 27 minutes to complete.

Miks settled down and pitched well. He gave up two more runs in the top of the fourth and gave way to Zach Smith in the fifth inning.

The Chargers finally broke the deadlock on catcher Michael DeLeon’s RBI fielder’s choice in the bottom of the fifth. The Chargers added a run in the sixth and had two runners on with no outs to start the seventh before the Farmers got DeLeon to ground into a 1-4-3 double play.

DeLeon and outfielder Garrett Yost are the two Chargers who played regularly for the varsity last season. With a host of roles to fill, the Chargers must find new leadership and develop confidence.

“We have to figure out what guys are made of,” DeLeon said.

In Friday’s game, the Chargers turned two double plays, but desperately needed a clutch hitter. The Chargers threatened several times, but never hit the ball hard enough to light the proverbial fuse.

“Some kids make the excuse of going from metal to wood (bats), metal to wood, but we still have to make the adjustments, which we didn’t do until later on and it was too late,” DeLeon said. “It’s not like their pitches were overpowering or anything.”

Wheat Ridge     400  200 0 - 6  8  3

Chatfield     000  011  1  - 3   7  2

Chatfield – Ives ss 4-0-2-0, Blevins cf 4-1-3-0, Edwards lf 2-0-0-0, Yost ph 1-0-0-0, DeLeon c 4-0-0-1, Barnhart cr 0-0-0-0, Alves 3b 3-0-0-0, Good dh 4-0-0-0, Miks sp 0-0-0-0, Smith rp 0-0-0-0, Peters 1b 3-1-1-0, Todd rf 3-0-1-0, Crites 2b 3-1-0-0. Totals 31-3-7-1.

E – Todd, Ives. LOB – Chatfield 9. DP – Chatfield 2. SB – Blevins. GIDP – Edwards, DeLeon.

Battery – Miks, Smith (5) and DeLeon. L – Miks.