Is there such a thing as too much baseball? Ben Williams and Ben Fulton laughed. To them, that is a stupid question.
"No," the pair said in unison.
It could be practice. It could be playing catch in the back yard with dad. It could be the top of the fourth in a lopsided Triple Crown game against the Longmont Sabres. It really doesn't matter where the players of the Northwest Colorado Lynx are playing baseball, as long as they are playing baseball.
"They love it," Lynx coach Shane Camilletti said. "They don't complain -- ever."
Of course, being good doesn't hurt. Northwest Colorado isn't a hotbed of baseball talent, but it is a place with active and athletic children willing to try almost any sport. The 11 players on the 11-and-younger Lynx team have committed to a spring and summer on the diamond, and they are reaping the rewards.
Camilletti admits he has a pretty good coaching gig. He often has to motivate the boys early on, but once the game begins, they become consumed.
On Friday, in the opening day of the Triple Crown Division 2 Mountain Magic Tournament, the Lynx outscored the opposition 26-4. In the team's first game Saturday at the Ski Town Fields, Northwest Colorado picked up right where it left off, defeating Longmont, 19-1, in four innings.
The team plays great defense and all 11 players are confident at the plate, but what stands out the most is how aggressive the players are on the base paths. Speed helps, but becoming a good base runner has more to do with knowledge and experience.
At 11, the players on the Lynx have both.
In Saturday's win, Northwest Colorado had 12 stolen bases. The Sabres had six total base runners.
In the first inning, however, it appeared as though Longmont was going to be the one to establish an early lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Sabres loaded the bases, but Lynx pitcher Isiah Forsyth got Keith Albertson to ground out to second to end the inning.
Then Northwest Colorado took over.
The Lynx batted around in the top of the second, scoring nine runs off eight hits. All 10 batters -- Triple Crown allows an extra hitter -- reached base safely, highlighted by RBI hits from Charles Wood, Louie Neil, Alan Capistron and Fulton.
"When they play like that, they are pretty good," Camilletti said.
Northwest Colorado added seven more runs in the third, capped off by Williams' base-clearing double to the centerfield fence that chased Longmont pitcher Griffin Phillips from the game after 2 1/3 innings.
Forsyth pitched two scoreless innings for Northwest Colorado. Fulton entered in the third and ran his strikeout streak to six batters, sending Taylor Ensdorff, Keenan Olsen and Ben Rodriquez back to the bench in order. He struck out three Friday night.
Fulton pitched in one game last season, but this year he is a much-improved left-handed thrower.
"I worked with my dad," he said.
Longmont got its lone run of the game when Phillips scored on an errant throw to first in the bottom of the fourth.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org