It was a game that the Steamboat Springs boys baseball team expected to win.
But after losing 6-3 to the Battle Mountain Huskies (1-4) on Tuesday night, the Sailors left Craig's Woodbury Park with more questions than answers.
"We need to find out where our hitting went," senior Sean Murphy said. "At the beginning of the year, we were scoring 18 runs a game. Now, in our last five games combined, we might have scored that many."
Murphy, who went two-for-three, was frustrated after Steamboat left nine runners stranded on base and could only score three runs in seven innings.
Steamboat missed key chances to get back into the game in the fifth inning, when they left the bases loaded, and in the seventh, when they had runners at second and third with no outs.
"Our biggest problem is not the missed opportunities, but the lack of enthusiasm at the beginning of the game," coach Sean Hicks said. "The game shouldn't come down to a missed opportunity if the kids come out to play."
But they didn't. The Huskies capitalize early with three runs in the second. They added insurance runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings to earn the team's first league victory of the season.
The Huskies had 11 hits, while Battle Mountain pitcher Jose Morales chalked up nine strikeouts and allowed just eight hits.
For the Sailors, Murphy pitched five innings and collected seven strikeouts. Teal Taylor came in the sixth and struck out two batters in relief.
"We came out of the gates strong this season, but the last couple of games we've died," Hicks said. "It's our lack of intensity that has me concerned."
Steamboat has lost three straight, including the one to Battle Mountain on Tuesday and two to league-leading Delta (6-0) on Saturday.
The Sailors, which looked to be on track to a playoff run after winning five of the team's first nine games, are suddenly in danger of missing the post season.
"At the beginning of the year we went out and were aggressive," junior Tyler Fosdick said. "Now, we are tentative at the plate. We just need to go out and hit the ball, we need to go out and swing."
With six games remaining in the regular season, there is plenty of time for the Sailors to regroup and make a run. But Steamboat has fallen into a must-win situation with key doubleheaders left against Palisade on Saturday and Rifle on April 17.
"We need to come together as a team and figure out what is going on so that we can still have a run at the playoffs," Murphy said.
To do that, Hicks said the coaches will skip Wednesday's practice with hopes that the players can come together on their own and discover what has been missing in recent games.
"They've got to figure out a way to reach deep and salvage this season," Hicks said. "My goal for these guys from day one has been to make the playoffs. ... I believe in these kids and I know they are capable of taking that No. 3 spot."
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