Cowboys drop two to defending champs

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MEEKER | The regular season is winding down and head coach Brian Merrifield is confident with the way his team is playing with six games left in the regular season, including two home games Saturday against Rio Blanco County rival Rangely.

“We played great baseball against the defending state champs,” head coach Brian Merrifield said of the doubleheader against the Eagles last week in Paonia.

The Cowboys, currently 8-5 overall and 3-1 in league play, will play 3A Coal Ridge today in Silt and then host the Rangely Panthers this Saturday at Paintbrush Park for a Northwest League doubleheader. The Cowboys beat the Panthers last week 16-7 and 15-3 in Rangely.

“Our bats were hot against their young pitchers and our defense was solid behind good pitching from starters Trapper (Merrifield) and Garrett (Frantz), with Luis (Villalpando) catching both games,” Coach Merrifield said. “Doak (Mantle) finished game one and Uri (Goedert) finished game two.”

Nine Cowboys had hits against the Panthers, totaling 21 hits, including three each from Frantz, Goedert, Merrifield, Mantle and Jacob Pelloni. Logan Hughes and Cooper Meszaros each had two, while Luis Villalpando and Ryan Phelan each had a hit. Merrifield, Mantle and Hughes each had three hits in the second game too.

Against the Eagles, Merrifield started on the mound in the first game and pitched 2.1 innings, before Braydon Garcia came in for 1.2 innings and Cole Rogers pitched the final two, with Villalpando catching.

“Trap threw great, giving up two earned runs and leaving the game down 1-4, then Braydon and Cole stepped in and did an awesome job,” Merrifield said. “Offensively in game one, we faced Paonia’s best and battled for three runs of our own.”

“In game two, we threw our ace Logan Hughes,” coach Merrifield said. “Logan took us into the fourth inning, with a one run lead, when our defense made two untimely errors and allowed the Eagles to tie it up. We had Trap in scoring position in the fifth but couldn’t get him across the plate. Logan finished the fifth and we went with Garrett in the sixth but again, our defense couldn’t capitalize on Frantz’s great pitching. We gave up three runs on one error and missed a pop fly in foul territory. Doak came in and retired the Eagles. We came up empty in the seventh and lost 1-4.”

Paonia and Hotchkiss are still undefeated in league play and the Cowboys will play the Hotchkiss Bulldogs in the last doubleheader of the regular season at Paintbrush Park.

“I feel very confident, come May 11 and 12 at Districts, we will be ready and capable to bring home a district title,” coach Merrifield said. “We have six games left and all six are huge games when in comes to the RPI seeding that CHSAA uses for regionals.This team knows how to win in big situations and I can’t wait to watch them when it’s all on the line.”