Wellington Heat blow a late three-run lead to the Denver Cougars in the 2021 season opener

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News
Wellington’s Kaden Twyman tagged out at home by Denver’s Matt Verdugo as he tries to score from first in the bottom of the third.

WELLINGTON, Kansas – After 681 days, the Wellington Heat (0-1) were back in action at Hibbs-Hooten Stadium to open their 28th season. It wasn’t the start the Heat were looking for as they trailed early, blew a late-inning lead and lost 9-8 to the Denver Cougars (1-0).

The Heat starting pitcher Jacob Doshier cruised through the first inning without giving up a hit. However, in the second inning, the Cougars would get to Doshier and end his day early.

In the second inning, the Cougars had five consecutive batters reach on a walk or hit by pitch. Then, the Cougars were able to produce three consecutive hits and take an early 5-0 lead.

Doshier wouldn’t finish the second inning as he gave up three hits, five earned runs, two walks, three hits by pitches and no strikeouts. Cade Balma came in and kept the Cougars quiet.

Wellington had a chance to get their first run of the season in the third. The Cougars had a different idea as a perfectly executed relay from the right-field corner got the Heat leadoff man Kaden Twyman at the plate.

The Cougars starting pitcher, Mason Martinez, was giving the Heat problems. Martinez would pitch three innings, give up three hits and strike out six.

The Cougars took out Martinez and Wellington got bases loaded with no outs. It was the perfect opportunity for the Heat to get themselves back in the game

Wellington’s Eric Towsley took advantage of the situation and drove a fly ball to right field. The Cougars' right fielder misplayed the ball, and a run came across to score. Another run came in on the next at-bat to make it 5-2 heading to the fifth.

In the fifth inning, Wellington would keep producing runs. Cody Carpenter made it a one-run game as he ripped a line drive up the middle and drove in two runs. Justin Johnson doubled and got Carpenter to third base. Carpenter scored when Sparky Bray grounded to first base.

Keeping it a tie game wasn’t enough for the Heat. Wellington took the lead after Lachlan Brear drove in Johnson. The Heat would add one more run as Derek Bogh took a hit by pitch to make it 7-5.

Denver tried to chip away at the Wellington lead, but Cougars Aidan Smith would hit a hard grounder to Mathew Marlow and throw it to the plate. Wellington got the runner out to keep their two-run lead.

The Heat got an insurance run to make it 8-5 in the bottom of the seventh as Brooks Cruise hit a ground ball to the first baseman. However, in the eighth, Denver answered with four runs to take the lead.

Wellington couldn’t put together another comeback as they fell, 9-6, to the Cougars in the season opener.

Balma got the no-decision for Heat as he pitched 4 and 1/3 innings, gave up two hits, four walks, two hits by pitches and four strikeouts. Justin Lamatsch took the loss.