Despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead early on, Horizon baseball found themselves in an 8-2 hole heading to the fifth inning against the 6-2 Smoky Hill Buffaloes. As some teams might lay down, this …
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Despite jumping out to a 2-0 lead early on, Horizon baseball found themselves in an 8-2 hole heading to the fifth inning against the 6-2 Smoky Hill Buffaloes.
As some teams might lay down, this Horizon team under manager Ralph Garcia responded differently.
Chipping away and scoring six unanswered runs, Horizon earned their eighth win of the season April 15, 9-8.
Two first-inning runs by freshman leadoff man Jacob Olguin-Pacheco and senior Brandon Aragon put the contest in Horizon’s favor early. In the inning, five players reached base (three singles) for the Hawks as senior Josh Moehlenpah’s fielder’s choice and junior Jeffrey Martinez’s sacrifice fly respectively placed the lead at two.
Not allowing a run through the first two innings on the mound, Olguin-Pacheco allowed five runs, including a three-run home run to sophomore Preston Cooper in the third. As Smoky Hill batted through the lineup for the second time, their offense continued rolling in the fourth with three more runs off of Martinez, stretching the Buffaloes lead to six. Their last runs of the ballgame.
Hoping to obtain a shut-down inning for Smoky Hill in the top of the fifth, Buffaloes’ junior pitcher Diego Velasquez continued his struggles from the first inning with a walk and five hits allowed in the inning. A leadoff double by Olguin-Pacheco, RBI-single from Aragon and back-to-back-to-back singles from Moehlenpah, Martinez and junior Braxton Antonelli put Horizon back in things at 8-5.
“We talked about in the middle innings that adversity is going to happen in every game, especially big games,” Garcia said postgame. “If we want to be where we are trying to aim for at the end of the season, we’re going to have to deal with it, and it starts one bat at a time. Trying to find a way on and see what we can build, they did a great job of listening and adhering to the game plan.”
Shutting the door on the mound as the Hawks attempted their comeback, junior Zach Schowe completed two innings of no run baseball. Allowing just one hit and recording three strikeouts in his second appearance on the rubber this season, the crafty righty placed his fastball and devasting slider wherever he wanted.
Continuing to chip away, two more runs for Horizon came around to score on an RBI groundout by Moehlenpah and a two-out wild pitch from junior Liam Grimble in the sixth. With the lead cut to one, the magic began.
Forcing five walks in the top of the seventh, two bases-loaded free-passes to Aragon and Moehlenpah handed the Hawks their first lead since over three hours before. Patience is a virtue, and no one benefitted from it more than the road team. They forced the SH pitching staff to nine walks on the afternoon.
“They (Horizon offense) did a good job of executing, which has been something we have actually struggled with in that category (patience). We have put some runs up, but we knew we had to earn it tonight because they are a really good team,” Garcia said.
Closing things out in dominant fashion, Horizon closer Jackson Wangaard could smell blood. Striking out the side, the right-hander capped a fantastic comeback for a team that wouldn’t give up.
“Very proud of Zach Schowe for stepping up. He gave us an opportunity to come back,” Garcia said. “With Jackson, he is one of our dudes. He came in with all of the confidence in the world, and we knew he was going to get three outs.”
Winners in six of their last seven games, the Hawks have themselves playing their best baseball in the last couple of seasons. Garcia and his 11 seniors have been through plenty of battles, and this year something special could be brewing in Thornton.
“We were just proud last Friday to get our first league win in two years. This was a five-win team a year ago, but they knew they were better. I’m just proud of the hard work they do every single day.”
With three more games to end the week, Horizon followed with victories over Greeley West, Fairview, and Boulder to improve the Hawks’ record to 11-3 (4-0 in conference) on the season.
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