The baseball team escaped the Southern California rain and headed to drier weather at UC Colorado Springs (UCCS) on Friday.
It was a decisive win for the Broncos as they defeated the Mountain Lions 14-3 in their pre-season opener.
Many players drove in runs including sophomore shortstop Drew Cowley, who blasted a three-run home run in the fifth inning.
The Broncos started the game strong, with three runs on four hits in the first inning. Their defense kept the Mountain Lions at bay by only allowing one run.
“I thought the team came out very relaxed; we were ready to play. It was just a matter of getting out and playing somebody else,” head coach Randy Betten said. “I think scoring three early helped us settle into the game a little bit.”
The Broncos’ bats got hot in the fifth inning, scoring seven runs on seven hits.
“The fifth inning where we scored the seven runs, I thought was the ballgame. It separated us from them,” Betten said. “All we did that inning was put quality at bats together and it was just pass the baton from there. It was a quality effort.”
Cowley, who had a very successful campaign last season, made his 2019 debut with a three-run home run in his first at bat of the fifth inning.
With a player on second and third, Cowley ripped it deep to left field and gave the Broncos a 10-run lead against the Mountain Lions.
“We had a ton of hits today; it seemed like once one guy got a hit everyone started hitting and everyone just rallied together,” Cowley said.
“It was awesome and exciting to [get a home run] in the first game and it was my first hit of the season too, so that was exciting.”
The Mountain Lions were able to muster up two more runs in the fifth inning, making the score 11-3. However, the Broncos came back in the top of the sixth inning, scoring three runs to take a commanding 11-run lead.
That would end the scoring for the game with the Broncos winning 14-3.
The game was a total team effort, as every starter for the Broncos was able to make contact with the ball.
Junior second baseman Ryon Knowles had a huge impact as he hit three doubles, scored two runs and batted in two runs.
Junior first baseman Brennan McKenzie also contributed with three hits, two runs, and one run batted in.
The Broncos used three pitchers who only gave up three runs on five hits. Starting pitcher Tim Holdgrafer started the season strong with four-plus innings and only one run allowed.
“It’s tough pitching in that environment, the cold and wind, but my defense played well behind me so that is what helped me get my win,” Holdgrafer said.
“Tim gives a lot of energy to our team. [UCCS] led off their half of the first inning with a home run, but he only gave up that one run and set the tone for the day,” Betten said. “Then [Troy]Bethell came in there and pitched extremely well. And then [Drew] Atherton, who redshirted last year, that was his first collegiate game that he has ever pitched. Those guys just set the tone for the entire day.”
The Mountain Lions’ offense awoke on Saturday as they took both games of the doubleheader 10-5 and 20-7 against the Broncos. The Lions scored a total of 30 runs in the two games.
Senior Nic Hernandez hit a three-run home run for the Broncos in game one, while junior Brennan McKenzie hit a two-run home run in game two.
In the two games, the Broncos just had 15 hits while the home team had a total of 29 hits.
The Broncos dropped the final game of the series 12-6 on Sunday afternoon. They now fall to 1-3 to start the season.
The Broncos will have their first home game of the season this Friday at 6 p.m. on Scolinos Field where they will take on Hope International to close out the pre-season.
Conference play will begin on Feb. 15 against Cal State Dominguez Hills.
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