CONIFER — For five innings Monday, it was the kind of game one would expect from two teams in the top 10 — 4A top-ranked Wheat Ridge and No. 6 Conifer.
Scoreless. A pitchers’ duel. Then, the wheels fell off quickly.
Wheat Ridge batted around in the fifth inning and sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth. The end result: 13 unexpected runs, including a pair of three-run homers from Isabella Martinez and another three-run shot from Amaya Ruiz, that blew open what had been an offensive struggle.
The 13-0 defeat dropped host Conifer to 10-2 on the season, 4-1 in the 4A Jeffco League. Wheat Ridge improved to 11-1 overall, 4-1 in the league.
“I think we got nervous and scared that we were going to lose, so we kind of let ourselves lose,” said Conifer second baseman Regan Pell, who reached base twice.
It wasn’t like the Lobos weren’t making plays. There were plenty, both in the field and at the plate. Whether it was Sunny Aiken’s snag in left field in the third or Amber Prescott’s rundown in right field in the fifth that preserved, at the time, the shutout, Conifer was playing lights out defensively.
Then at the plate the Lobos were manufacturing baserunners. But Conifer left nine batters on base, including the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings. The first go-around, it was with no outs before Wheat Ridge sophomore Elizabeth Uhl struck out the side. She finished with 10 strikeouts.
“We get a couple of key hits (and) we’re out in front, and they’ve got to be scrambling. I think they were scrambling,” Conifer head coach Carrie Oletski said.
But the Farmers found a way out of both jams. And once they started stringing hits together off Conifer pitcher Cheyenne Prieto in the sixth and seventh innings, there didn’t seem to be any stopping them. Thirteen of Wheat Ridge’s 15 hits came in its final two at-bats.
Martinez finished with the two homers and six RBIs, while Ruiz reached base four times. Until the sixth inning, she had both of Wheat Ridge’s hits — a single in the second and another in the fifth.
“We shouldn’t have lost 13-0,” Oletski said. “The mental part of the game, we’re still working on it. We’ve got four games to find it.”