LAKEWOOD — Sometimes preparation in baseball is overrated.

Arvada West senior Mateo Rowzee came off the bench to deliver the game-winning RBI single for the Wildcats in an extra-inning pitchers’ duel Tuesday. A-West took a 1-0 road win against Bear Creek in the Class 5A Jeffco League game.

“It was really a surprised,” Rowzee said when coaches called for him to pinch-hit in the top of the eighth inning with two outs and junior Jordan Hamblin at second base. “I didn’t have my bat ready to go, my batting gloves or helmet.”

Rowzee told fellow senior Matt Hoerr to just give him a bat as he walked up to the plate. Hoerr grabbed Jordan Strudel’s bat. Rowzee took a few warm-up swings before swinging at the first pitch he saw from Bear Creek junior pitcher Jamin Patterson.

“It was a perfect fastball and I just drove it up the middle,” Rowzee said.

Hamblin raced home on the single to the outfield to break the scoreless tie.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

“Lucky for us we had a guy (Rowzee) who had been hitting 3-hole for us all year to come in for that situation,” A-West coach Danny Vais said of going to his bench in the key situation. “He was comfortable and has seen a lot of live pitching in the last couple of weeks.”

Rowzee was 0-for-4 from the plate the day before in a 7-4 victory over Columbine. The senior had gone 1-for-12 in his previous three starts in the line-up before coming off the bench Tuesday.

“I needed to calm down a little bit. I needed to stop putting so much pressure on myself,” Rowzee said. “I had a job to do. I just needed to do the best I could.”

While Rowzee was the offensive hero driving in the lone run of the game, it was sophomores Brayden Reiner, Kellen Conley and senior Jaxon Saunders who did the work on the mound for the Wildcats (10-5, 2-0 in 5A Jeffco). The trio combined for a 4-hit shutout victory.

“We just attacked the zone. Attacked hitters,” Reiner said of the Wildcats’ pitching approach. “We trusted our defense. Good things happen when you make teams put the ball into play.”

Reiner went a strong five innings striking out eight batters. Conley pitched a perfect two innings to pick up the win. Saunders got the save retiring all three batters he faced in the bottom of the eighth inning.

A-West pitchers retired the final 11 Bear Creek batters they faced. The Wildcats also got a pair of defensive gems to keep the Bears off the scoreboard.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

“We have baseball players and I’m never surprised when we make baseball plays,” Vais said referring to Cooper Vais, his son, throwing out a player at the plate from centerfield in the fourth inning and junior Dane Reed making a diving stop at second base in the seventh inning to prevent Bear Creek from getting to potential game-winning run on base to start the inning.

The Wildcats were held to just five hits. Patterson went 7 and 2/3 innings on the mound for the Bears striking out nine batters. The junior had retired 15 straight batters before Hamblin’s 2-out single in the final inning.

“(Patterson) threw unbelievable today,” Vais said. “He attacked us and threw at his own pace and rhythm.”

Bear Creek (6-10, 1-2) will try to get back in the win column when it hits the road to face Ralston Valley (7-7, 0-2) on Thursday, April 25.

“Robert has done a great job,” Vais said of Bear Creek coach Robert Mitchell. “Ever since he took over this program things have started to change for them.”

A-West is right with Dakota Ridge and Valor Christian as the three undefeated teams in early conference play. The Wildcats host Valor — defending 5A state champions — at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 24.

“It is really important because it can give us momentum going into next week,” Reiner said as the Wildcats are in the middle of four games in four days. A-West faces Lakewood on Thursday before having the weekend off. “We have some big games next week against Ralston Valley and Dakota Ridge.”

A-West is riding a 4-game winning streak heading into the meat of league play.

“If I can tell you anything that I’ve learned over the last three years from the coaching side of it, you just find any way possible to win,” Coach Vais said.