LAKEWOOD — You’d be hard-pressed to find a better pitching match than what was showcased Saturday afternoon at Lakewood High School.
Major League Baseball scouts were out in force with their radar guns to get a glimpse of Chatfield’s Christian Foutch (University of Arkansas) and Lakewood’s Jackson Beattie (US Naval Academy).
“I was super excited,” Beattie said of the showdown with Foutch. “I was just working on hitting my spots and working the turns. I felt like I did a good job today. It was a good fight. It’s not the result we wanted, but it was a good match.
Chatfield cruised to a 5-2 win to earn its fourth consecutive Class 5A Jeffco League win and stay atop the conference standings. The Chargers (8-9-1, 4-1 in 5A Jeffco and rival Dakota Ridge (9-8, 4-1) are deadlocked in the championship chase with three conference games to play.
“That’s what’s so crazy. You look at our record and we’re still not over .500,” Chatfield coach Brett Pieratt said. the league and it’s in our hands.”
Lakewood (11-7, 2-3) has now lost three straight league games after starting 2-0. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead over Chatfield to break a three-inning scoreless tie.
Sophomore Julian Duran started the bottom of the fourth inning by getting kicked by Foutch to win first base the hard way. Junior Eze Rojas followed that up with Lakewood’s first hit. Beattie went on a double play, but Duran managed to score all the way from second base on the play to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
However, Chatfield reacted quickly to take the lead in the top of the fifth inning. Junior Parker Murrow ripped a 2-out, 2-strike, 2-run single to score Sawyer Amato and Tanner Terlap, giving Chatfield a 2-1 lead.
“I had a long at-bat in my previous at-bat. I had seen all of his (Beattie) throws,” Murrow said of the 2-run single. “He had beaten me a couple of times with an inside fastball and I figured he could come back to that.”
It was the third in a row Murrow had come to the plate with runners in scoring position.
“Parker with two strikes is so effective and also with two outs,” Pieratt said. “For him to put the ball in play there and score a few points made a big difference for us.”
Foutch worked around a walk in the bottom of the sixth inning. He managed to knock out Duran trying to steal third base to end the inning.
Chatfield’s offense took advantage of Beattie’s exit from the mound to open the seventh inning. Junior Tobey Scoles took the hill for the Tigers in the seventh as Beattie moved over first base.
The Chargers scored three runs on a field error, hit by a pitch and an intentional walk to Murrow. Sophomore Brady Snow threw a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Junior Maddox Hodges delivered the big hit with a 2-run single to left field with two outs to extend the lead to 5-1.
With the insurance runs to work with Foutch took the hill late in the seventh inning.
“He (Foutch) didn’t have to tell us about it,” Pieratt said with a smile of Foutch taking the mound in the seventh inning. “He was going out to throw the seventh no matter what.”
Beattie and Diego Villarreal senior hit Foutch for back-to-back doubles to start the bottom of the seventh inning, but the right-handed pitcher racked up his sixth and seventh strikeouts of the game.
“It was weird because I wasn’t getting as many Ks as usual,” Foutch said. “But my pitch count was low and this is my first time pitching a full game (7 innings) in high school. I would trade fewer strikeouts for more innings every day.
It looked like Foutch could hit the team to end the game, but Villarreal were sent off on third base after thinking of heading home on a wild pitch that Hodges smothered at home plate.
“It was fun. I knew it was going to be a low-scoring game for sure,” said Foutch, who allowed just three hits. “Today I knew we were going to have to win it all. .”
Beattie took the loss despite her brilliant six innings. The future contender allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out eight.
“Their pitcher (Beattie) was great all day,” Pieratt said. “We managed to get a few points in the seventh which made us feel a bit better. It was a great duel of pitchers.
Chatfield is at Valor on Tuesday before hosting Pomona (Thursday) and Dakota Ridge (Saturday). The Chargers can claim the league title if they win all three games.
“We started hard, but we really caught on fire,” Foutch said of Chatfield’s four-game winning streak in the league heading into the final week of conference play.
Foutch will likely start against rival Dakota Ridge where it could be a win-win situation with the conference title on the line next Saturday afternoon.
Lakewood ends conference play against Arvada West, Dakota Ridge and Ralston Valley next week. The strong non-league record should see the Tigers through to the 32-team regional playoffs and Lakewood will be tough with Beattie in the lead.
Beattie showed no nerves with half a dozen radar guns pointing home Saturday with the professional scouts watching him and Foutch. The path Beattie will take after graduating from Lakewood this spring is clear.
“I’m going to Navel Academy no matter what,” Beattie said. “It’s my dream. I want to serve my country and be part of something bigger than me.