Brad Cochi From the Colorado Dugout: Golden's Ben McLaughlin shoulders the load in loss to Fort Morgan

Brad Cochi
Northern Colorado Senior Writer

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By Brad Cochi
Northern Colorado Senior Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS – The first round of the Class 4A state tournament didn’t go as hell as the Golden Demons had hopes, but 2020 Ben McLaughlin certainly made his presence.

The Demons’ two-way standout pitcher/shortstop started the game on the mound with designs on getting the Golden boys’ tournament off on the right foot. Sure, he allowed six runs (five earned) and took the loss – a 6-1 defeat – but McLaughlin also struck out seven batters while eating six innings for a complete game to keep the rest of the Demons pitching staff fresh.

With the double-elimination tournament continuing on Saturday, the Demons will likely be grateful for McLaughlin’s 105-pitch individual effort come midday.

“He did good,” Golden head coach Jackie McBroom said. “He gave up six runs and they squared up a few balls but for the most part, he pitched well. They’re a good hitting baseball team and we knew they were going to be. They’re used to hitting good fastballs so we knew there were a few guys in their lineup who were going to time up some fastballs. So we’ve got to pitch a little bit better instead of just throwing sometimes, but overall he did great.

“We put our number one on the mound because we felt he was good enough to go out there and beat those guys. But I’ve said it before, we’re only going to be as good as how well we hit the ball. And today, we didn’t.”

At regionals, the Demons (18-7) blew out Glenwood Springs and Skyview by a combined score of 21-3. That offense just was not there against Fort Morgan (18-8) on Friday and the Golden lineup mustered just five hits and McLaughlin scored the team’s only run in the top of the fourth inning.

McLaughlin, who entered the state tournament batting .500 with six home runs and 33 RBIs, went 1-for-3 with a double to record the Demons’ lone extra-base hit in the game. Joe Quintana went 2-for-3 at the plate.

“We’ve got to have a better approach at the plate,” McBroom said. “Their guy’s throwing 70 miles an hour up there and we’re going up there hitting fly balls, striking out and not making adjustments. We gotta do a better job than that.”

Topping out around 70 miles per hour on the UCHealth Park stadium gun, Fort Morgan 2021 Mateo Salcido may not have been dominating with his velocity. But he was effective, throwing just 81 pitches over seven innings and striking out four batters without walking a soul. 

Fort Morgan 2019 Isaac Linker (.373/.444/.554) went 2-for-4 at the plate with a triple. Both 2020 Javier Baquera, who doubled and scored during a two-run fifth that all but sealed the victory, and 2021 Nick Beltran went 2-for-4 and each drove in a run. 

The Demons will face Erie in an elimination game at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs’ Mountain Lion Park. 

Fort Morgan 6, Golden 1

At UCHealth Park

Golden (18-7) 000 100 0 – 1 5 1

Fort Morgan (18-8) 013 020 x – 6 10 1

W – Salcido. L – McLaughlin.

Golden hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Keener 3-0-1-0, Holmes 3-0-0-0, McLaughlin 3-1-1-0, Quintana 3-0-2-0, Covey 3-0-0-0, Vogl 3-0-0-0, Lewis 3-0-0-0, Douthit 2-0-1-0, Howe 2-0-0-0. Totals 24-1-5-0. 2B – McLaughlin. SB – Quintana.

Fort Morgan hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Hamer 3-1-1-0, Linker 4-1-2-1, Norris 3-1-1-0, Baquera 3-2-2-1, Beltran 3-0-2-1, Salcido 4-0-1-1, Fajardo 2-0-0-1, Apple 2-0-1-1, Langford 2-0-0-0, Ortega 0-1-0-0. Totals 26-6-10-6. 2B – Baquera. 3B – Linker. 

Golden pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – McLaughlin 6-10-6-5-3-7. 

Fort Morgan pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Salcido 7-5-1-0-0-4.