Cowboys win 3; must-win tonight at Paintbrush Park

Rangely junior Trenton Files gets ready to try to slide into home plate but Meeker junior Luis Villalpando blocked the plate and got the out. Meeker’s standout catcher, hit his first two home runs of his career, including the first grand slam ever witnessed by his coach Brian Merrifield, while coaching, helping his team beat Coal Ridge and Rangely. The Cowboys will host the 3A Roaring Fork Rams today at Paintbrush Park in a must-win game, then host the Hotchkiss Bulldogs, Monday at 1 p.m., for a doubleheader, where the first game will determine the Western Slope League champion. BOBBY GUTIERREZ PHOTO

MEEKER | The Cowboys’ baseball team won three games last week and they are in a must-win situation today when they host the 3A Roaring Fork Rams at Paintbrush Park, with the varsity game starting at 4 p.m., followed by the JV. The Cowboys beat 3A Coal Ridge in Silt last Wednesday, then won a doubleheader against Rangely last Saturday.

The Cowboys are 11-5 overall and 3-1 in the Western Slope League amd have three games left to play, including today’s game. Monday, the Cowboys will host the Hotchkiss Bulldogs in a doubleheader, currently 12-2 overall and undefeated (5-0) in league play. The first game will determine the Western Slope League champions and No. 1 seed in the district tournament.

The Cowboys beat the 3A Coal Ridge Titans 23-18 in a seven inning game, then beat Rangely 8-6 in the first game and 16-6 in the second.

“Against Coal Ridge, we ran into a small strike zone, which caused us to throw eight different pitchers to get through seven innings and pick up the win,” Coach Merrifield said. “Offensively, we were hot, picking up 22 hits, including our first and second home runs of the year. The first was by junior Luis Villalpando, the first of his career and one that started a six-run second inning.”

The Cowboys trailed 8-10 after two innings, then each team scored three runs in the next two innings, still trailing 11-13 going into the fifth.

“In the fifth inning, senior Doak (Mantle) blasted a two-run homer, his first of the season and the fifth of his career,” Coach Merrifield said. “We had some young guys step in and pitch in some tough situations and as a coach, I love to see my younger guys stepping up and accepting the challenge.”

Senior Logan Hughes got the win for the Cowboys, Mantle got the save, while seniors Garrett Frantz, Uri Goedert and Trapper Merrifield all pitched, as did sophomore Cole Rogers and freshmen Ryan Phelan and Braydon Garcia.

Mantle went five-for-five from the plate with five RBIs, Merrifield had five hits in six at-bats, while Villalpando, Goedert and senior classmate Jacob Pelloni, all had three hits against the Titans. Hughes had two and Frantz had one.

Coach Merrifield said the Cowboys started against the Panthers without two of their starters but “C.J. Wagnild and Colten Wille stepped in and did a terrific job for us.”

“Cooper Meszaros, also had his first home run of his career, as he beat Rangely’s right fielder and ran the bases for an inside the park home run, to help us win 8-6,” Coach Merrifield said.

Trapper Merrifield suffered a cleat injury in the first game and Coach Merrifield was again proud of his younger players, when he said, “Again, we had the next up guy mentality and Braydon Garcia got the job done.”

“Also in game two, Luis continued to be hot at the plate and drove in four runs with one swing of his bat,” Coach Merrifield said. “It was Luis’ second homer of the season and the first grand slam I have ever witnessed as a coach. I am super proud of Luis and couldn’t be more happy for him.”

Villalpando, who caught both games against the Panthers, also got to throw from the mound.

“We had six different pitchers for two games against Rangely and they all worked off the mound very well,” Coach Merrifield said of Frantz, Goedert (pitched in both games), Mantle, Villalpando, Meszaros and Garcia. “Luis caught both games as usual and Tanner Ridgeway caught one inning when Luis took his turn pitching.”

The Cowboys have a tough challenge ahead, in order to move up in the playoff rankings, they have to beat Roaring Fork, a team that beat them 10-0 the first time they played this season, then they have to beat Hotchkiss by eight runs to win the WSL, Monday, while Hotchkiss only needs to win by one.

“I believe in this group of young men and truly believe we can bring home a league championship,” Coach Merrifield said.