New faces, same goals for Berthoud baseball

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

Roster turnover is something all high school teams have to deal with, but the 2019 Berthoud High School (BHS) baseball team is dealing with far more than the usual number of new players. Berthoud lost 14 seniors from last year’s playoff-qualifying squad to graduation, and this season returns only two players who appeared in 10 or more games in 2018.

Yet Manager Buddy Kouns, who enters his eighth season leading the squad, is confident this year’s largely green group will open some eyes. Taking the field for the first time in spring-like conditions Tuesday afternoon at Jack Sommers Field at BHS, the Spartans fell to Sliver Creek by an 8-2 final, a score which does not adequately reflect how competitive the game was.

“We have a lot of guys who have not been on this field and it was evident early. We were a little nervous, things were a little tight. I think we did relax as the game went on,” Kouns said following the season-opener. “We had a lot to replace, and I hope the boys aren’t discouraged. They shouldn’t be discouraged, they should be encouraged; they’re going to compete better than people think. Eight-2 – that really wasn’t an 8-2 ball game. That was a good baseball game; it got away from us late.”

Berthoud got a solid starting effort from sophomore pitcher Matt Jorissen, who was making his varsity pitching debut, and surrendered only one earned run and fanned six in five innings on the mound. Jorissen was intentionally kept at a 90 pitch-count limit and Kouns was pleased with the sophomore’s performance saying, “I think Matt pitched a great game; he pitched very, very well.”

Jorissen dealt with runners on base in each of his five innings of work, routinely able to get strikeouts and induce ground balls to get out of each jam with very limited damage. Silver Creek pushed one run across in the second frame, the result of a fielding error, a passed ball, a hit batsman and a walk, but Jorissen and Berthoud got out of a bases-loaded jam with a perfectly-turned 4-2-3 double play and a strikeout to keep the game a one-score affair.

The sophomore pitcher was able to get of a two-on, one-out situation in the fourth with a strikeout and a soft grounder to second base. In the fifth, a single and two stolen bases from Silver Creek’s Justin Swenson was followed by back-to-back walks and a wild pitch to give the Raptors their second run of the game but, once again, Jorissen worked his way out of trouble, inducing a soft fly ball behind first base for the third and final out of the frame.

The Spartans had an opportunity in the third frame to take a lead, perhaps a sizable one, as junior Ryler Schelle worked a one-out walk and advanced to third when leadoff hitter Aaron Hardy laced a double into the outfield. Berthoud’s nascent scoring opportunity came to an end, however, with back-to-back strikeouts the next two at-bats.

Kouns called the two Ks a “missed opportunity,” and said, “We’ve got runners on second and third with one out in the third inning, and we had two strikeouts with two of the hitters we want in that situation. We’re going to get better at that.”

Berthoud was able to get on the board in the home half of the fifth with senior Danny Pelphrey scoring the Spartans first run of the season after leading off the frame with a single, advancing on a single from nine-hole hitter Jacob Lettieri, and coming home on a single from Robert Ross, to cut Silver Creek’s lead to 2-1. Ross drove in Lettieri in the seventh for Berthoud’s final run after the former singled to lead off the advanced on a Hardy base hit.

Sliver Creek scored three unearned runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to make the final score appear far more lopsided than the game truly was.

“For game one, I was pleasantly surprised. We hit the ball harder than they did, and early in the year like this bats are a little behind pitching,” Kouns said. We’re going to find our way.”

Berthoud will play a two-game set with 5A Windsor this week with the games tentatively scheduled for Thursday at Windsor and Saturday at Berthoud. If weather interferes with the Thursday game, a double-header will be played at BHS on Saturday.

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