NoCo Owlz make a comeback with a 9-8 loss to Rocky Mountain Vibes

Perhaps the Northern Colorado Owlz should be renamed the Heartbroken Hoots after their stunning one-run loss.

The Owlz (11-13) dropped their midweek game with a 9-8 stunner against the Rocky Mountain Vibes (6-19).

Northern Colorado didn’t play a great game overall, but his ninth-inning exploits looked like a tie or a walk-off win was possible.

The team was down five runs going into the bottom of the frame, but a pitching change from Vibes proved useful for the Owlz.

Third baseman Ty Lewis started the inning with a leadoff triple — although it looked like it might get out of the park — to give the home team some momentum. Catcher Robbie Kellerman reached in from a miss, allowing Lewis to score. It was 9-5 with no outs.

A flyout and walk is two with one out. Designated hitter Alex Jackson stepped up to the plate. After going 0-for-4 in his previous at-bats, Jackson launched a triple blast to reduce the Vibes’ lead to one. There was still only one outside.

“I knew he hit me with the first fastball and his curveball wasn’t working that well, so I was like, ‘Get a fastball and hit it well,'” Jackson said. “That was pretty much it. I just trusted myself.”

Center fielder Cameron Phelts pulled a walk but was kicked out after the following fielder’s pick. Two outs. Then left fielder Liam Scafariello drew a walk of his own.

Right fielder Brian Dansereau, who hit a solo home run earlier in the game, probably only needed a base hit to level the game. Extras would likely have given NoCo a walk-off win. Unfortunately, he struck swinging and the Owlz were left with a hard defeat.

The Owlz swept the vibes in the home-opening series earlier this month, but the state rival turned the tables this week.

Jackson said he doesn’t think there’s necessarily a huge difference between Rocky Mountain’s game a few weeks ago and today. Instead, the Owlz pound on the defenders instead of finding the gaps.

Also, the team’s defensive inconsistency is on display again. NoCo ended the loss with nine hits and four penalties. Two runs specifically occurred due to errors.

Meanwhile, the Vibes recorded 14 hits and two errors in the game.

The Owlz pitching staff finished the tournament with seven strikeouts, three walks and one wild pitch. Seven of the Rocky Mountain runs were earned.

Jackson said despite only playing a batsman role, some of the challenges were related to confidence.

“Just having the confidence you need to be able to make any play,” he said. “I think we could do a better job.”

Also, they are comfortable with each other. Teams in the Pioneer League play each other several times during the season. This was the seventh of around 28 games alone against the Vibes.

“You play against a team so many times that eventually they give you a better chance,” Jackson said. “I think we’re going to get them in the next three games.”

The Owlz will play in Colorado Springs to wrap up the series. They are scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. NoCo will return home to host the Ogden Raptors on July 6th. NoCo Owlz make a comeback with a 9-8 loss to Rocky Mountain Vibes

James Brien

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