CLASS 2A BASEBALL REGIONAL PREVIEW
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
Thirty-two teams qualified for the regional/state bracket in Class 2A and by the end of the day on Saturday, that number will be slashed to eight. The top eight seeds will host four team regions this weekend, leading up to the quarterfinals and semifinals next weekend at the Runyon Complex in Pueblo. The state championship game will also be played in Pueblo, but at Rawlins Field at CSU-Pueblo on June 3rd.
REGION ONE HOSTED BY LIMON (SATURDAY)
The top overall seed is no stranger to postseason baseball, as two-time defending champion Limon leads the field. The Badgers vaulted to the #1 spot in the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index when they earned a split with Peyton, who was undefeated at the time. Their loss in the second game of that doubleheader was their only defeat in the final 14 contests, snapping an 11-game winning streak.
Limon has registered 16 home runs this season, with all but one coming from the trio of Keon Bandy (8), Trey Smith (4), and Jordan Rockwell (3). Bandy, the team’s top hitter at .560, and Smith, second with a .506 average, each have a grand slam in their tally. Bandy has scored 43 runs and driven in 41, both of which lead the squad. Lance Beedy (32) and Cale Bennett (31) are second and third in RBI, and Bennett has swiped a team-best 32 bags.
Bandy has posted a 10-1 record with an ERA of 1.72 in 13 games, and also has one of the seven saves recorded by the Badgers. Smith is 5-2 with two saves and an earned run average of 3.88, while Rockwell is 4-1 with three saves and an ERA of 2.81. Bennett owns the remaining save and has not allowed an earned run in four appearances.
Heading into Sunday morning, #32 Sedgwick County was sitting outside of the top-32 of the Selection and Seeding Index, but one of the teams in front of the Cougars did not have enough games to qualify for the postseason. That moved the Cougars into the bracket and they bring with them a six-game losing streak. The Cougars have not made it to a state title game since finishing second to Resurrection Christian in 2014.
Of the regulars, Hunter Schneider has the hottest bat for Sedgwick County, coming into the regional semifinal at .524, and his 17 RBI are second to Tate Renquist’s 18. Those two each have a home run, accounting for all of the squad’s four-baggers. Jaxon Carlson (26) and Renquist (24) have combined to score 50 runs. Carlson tops the Cougars with 19 stolen bases.
Renquist, a freshman, owns two of the team’s five wins on the hill and owns a very respectable 3.31 ERA while working a team-high 42.1 innings. He’s allowed 70 runs on the season, but only 20 have been earned. Overall, Sedgwick County has allowed 111 earned runs and 112 unearned. Schneider has added 34 innings, while Chris Loyd has a team-leading 43 strikeouts in 27.2 innings.
The other semifinal pits #16 Ignacio against a team both teams in the first game are familiar with, #17 Wray. Wray enters on a two-game skid after falling to both Holyoke and Limon last Saturday. Just a few days earlier, the Eagles had swept a DH against Sedgwick County. They played a lot of close games, going 4-8 in contests decided by three runs or less. Wray is looking to reach a title game for the first time since winning the program’s only championship in 2007.
Unlike many of the teams in the field, Wray doesn’t have anyone hitting .500 or better. However, they do have a pair of dangerous hitters near the top of the order. Chris Arambula is hitting .472 with 34 runs scored and 41 stolen bases. That latter number is second in the classification and fourth in the entire state. His back court mate for the 2A state basketball champions, Joey Uyemura, leads the team with 23 RBI and 13 extra base hits, including three home runs. He’s added 25 stolen bases.
As a team, the Eagles have a staff ERA of 2.86, but they’ve been bitten by 77 unearned runs on the season. Camden Riggleman has the lowest ERA on the squad at 1.58, followed closely by Arambula at 1.88. Three pitchers have worked right around 30 innings so far, led by Uyemura at 31.2, with Rydge Peterson (30.2) and Carson Rockwell (29.2) being the other two. Arambula is closing in on joining them, coming in with 26 IP.
Not only is Ignacio looking to win its first state title in program history, the Bobcats are trying to get to a championship game for the first time in 54 years. The program finished runner-up in both 1968 and 1969. This squad comes in having won two straight and eight of the last 10 overall.
Phillip Quintana is at or near the top of every offensive category for the Bobcats, leading in average (.565), hits (39), RBI (28), XBH (18), and homers (3). His 35 runs scored are third. Eppie Quintana is second with a .500 average and 12 stolen bases, while topping the attack with 40 runs. He ranks third with 24 RBI and 11 XBH. Devante Montoya is another name that shows up all over the stat sheet, with the junior posting 38 runs, 25 RBI, 19 stolen bases, and 13 XBH, including a pair of dingers.
The Quintanas are also leaders of the pitching staff, combining for nine of the team’s 14 wins, with both having ERAs in the low to mid 2s. Eppie has collected five victories with an ERA of 2.52 in 50 innings, and Phillip has four wins, an ERA of 2.19 in 22.1 innings. Of the 110 runs allowed by the Bobcats, 59 have been unearned.
Wray and Ignacio are set to play at 10am, with Limon and Sedgwick County at 12:30. The championship is scheduled for 3pm.
REGION EIGHT HOSTED BY MONTE VISTA (SATURDAY)
A strong body of work during the regular season earned Monte Vista the #8 seed in the bracket and the right to host a region. The Pirates, in search of the program’s first ever state title game appearance, made an impact with their bats, as they scored 10 or more runs in 14 of their 16 victories this season. In the other two wins, they scored eight and nine runs. The Pirates enter the regional semifinals having won two straight and 13 of 15 overall.
Entering the postseason, the Pirates have a .467 team batting average, with four players hitting better than .500, and no one with more than three plate appearances below .300. Kobe Jiron (.634), Jeremiah Baumgardner (.553), Azariah Hurtado (.536), and Kaden Mellott (.514) not only lead the team in hitting, but all four have scored at least 30 runs. Hurtado leads the team with 34 RBI, one ahead of Andrew Chavez. Monte Vista has recorded 92 extra base hits to date, with Hurtado’s 18 pacing the attack. Four of those have been home runs. For good measure, he also has a team-leading 31 stolen bases.
If the Pirates have an Achilles Heel, it might be on the mound, where the team has an ERA of 7.64, with Jiron and Mellott being the only two on the staff below that number. Jiron is tops at 6.30 and Mellott at 7.19. They have combined for 11 wins and just over 80 innings pitched. Behind them, no one is has an ERA under 9.
Facing the hosts in the opening game will be #25 Bishop Machebeuf, who won a 3A title in 2005. That’s the only championship game appearance in program history. This year’s squad broke a three-game slide in its last outing, beating another team in the region, Front Range Christian. That was just the third win in the last eight games for the Buffaloes, who will be seeing their first action in nearly two weeks.
Miles Edgar ranks third in 2A with his .643 average, just .009 ahead of Jiron, who is fifth. The sophomore leads the team with 28 RBI and 18 XBH, four of which are home runs. Jack Menke has scored a team-high 27 runs and is tied for second with 16 RBI. Landon Sulser also has 16 RBI on the season.
Consistent pitching has also been an issue for the Buffaloes, who enter play with a team ERA of 8.89, and only two members of the staff are below 10 on the year. Leo Boberschmidt is the workhorse, working 45 innings and racking up 79 strikeouts. The senior has posted a 5.76 ERA. Julian Hernandez is the other pitcher with a sub-10 ERA, checking in at 6.88 in 19.1 innings.
Going into the final day of the regular season, Burlington was in possession of the final hosting position. Results from the games on Tuesday slid the Cougars down to #9 and put them on the road. The program was a regular in title games between 1958 and 1962, playing for the crown three times, winning a Class B championship in 1958. It would not get back to that point until 1980, when the Cougars finished second. They haven’t been back since. This squad won its last three and seven of 10 to end the regular season.
Garrett Richardson paces the Cougars in hitting (.569), runs (34), hits (33), XBH (14), and stolen bases (14). He has three of the team’s seven homers, with Dominic Conrardy and Gabe Roybal each having two. Roybal is the team leader in RBI with 28. Freshman Darian McDonough is hitting .500 since becoming a starter midway through the year.
The pitching has been pretty solid for the Cougars, with a team ERA just over four and a half. Matthew Gutierrez is the low man at 3.43, followed by Zack Foose (4.06), Conrardy (4.82), and Richardson (5.88). All four have worked more than 20 innings, with three of the four being over 30. One big problem for the squad has been free base runners. The four arms have allowed 87 walks and 22 hit batters.
From 2008 until 2019, #24 Front Range Christian won at least 10 games in all but two seasons. After COVID wiped out the 2020 season, the Falcons struggled to find their footing the next two years, winning a total of eight games. They’ve shown a nine-win improvement over last season, entering the regional bracket with a dozen. They’re seeking the first title game appearance in program history.
Brooks Okeefe swings a big bat for the Falcons, with 20 of his team-leading 41 hits going for extra bases. The rest of the team has 24. The senior is also tops with a .576 average, 41 runs, and 24 stolen bases. Freshman Haedan Morton leads Front Range Christian with 27 RBI, while Wesley Marshall is second with 19. Marshall is also second in runs (29) and XBH (8).
The best ERA in the region belongs to the Falcons, who are just a tick under four at 3.99, with three of their top five arms coming in under that mark. Tobin Billings is best at 2.56 and Okeefe is right on his heels at 2.62, but has only worked a few innings. Nathaniel McInturff, who has worked 42 innings, comes in at 3.83. Marshall is the leader at 51.1 innings and has an ERA of 4.23. The Falcons have hit 20 batters, 13 by Marshall.
Monte Vista and Bishop Machebeuf begin things at 11am, with Burlington and FRC scheduled for 1pm. The winners will play at 3pm.
REGION FOUR HOSTED BY BUENA VISTA (SATURDAY)
Buena Vista spent most of the season ranked in the top four of the Seeding Index and the Demons find themselves hosting a region as the #4 seed. They are trying to reach the title game for the first time in program history and the Demons have a squad that has already won more games (17) than any other in the MaxPreps era, topping the 15 from last season. The Demons had a nine-game winning streak snapped by rival Salida just over two weeks ago, but have still won 11 of their last 12.
Caleb Camp and Zandon Mitchell have identical averages of .412, with each collecting 28 hits on the season. Camp has scored one more run (28) than Mitchell, while Mitchell has driven in 32 runs to Camp’s 18. Mitchell has 13 extra base hits, and Camp has nine. They’ve combine to swipe 38 bases. But, they’re not the only two threats in the BV line-up. Edgardo Cubero-Villanueva has scored 27 runs and stolen 14 bases, and Haden Camp owns 22 RBI and 13 steals.
On the bump, C. Camp has worked 55.2 innings, posting an ERA of 2.51 and striking out 111 hitters. Mitchell is next in workload, chewing up 37.2 innings with a 4.65 ERA, and Otto Rizzi checks in with a 4.41 ERA in 27 IP. Hit batters and wild pitches are higher than the Demons would like, with 27 HBP and 47 pitches to the backstop.
Clear Creek limped to the finish line in the regular season, dropping the final three games. To be fair, all three were to teams in the bracket. The Golddiggers had a rough start to the season, losing seven of their first 10, including a five-game streak of defeats. Like so many other squads in the field, Clear Creek (#29) is trying to get into a state championship game for the first time in program history.
Bode Baker (.545) owns a full one-third of the team’s XBH with nine, seven of them being doubles. The senior has scored 27 runs and driven in 13, while also leading the team with 23 steals. No one else is in double figures. Connor Kennedy owns the team lead in RBI with 17, and has one of the two home runs hit by the Golddiggers. Tucker Versailles has the other one.
Baker and Kennedy have both put up an ERA of 5.83, with Baker’s coming in 18 innings and Kennedy’s in 36. Joe Monseu has the lowest ERA on the squad (3.88) in 21.2 innings. With 100 walks and 16 hit batters, the Golddiggers have allowed a ton of free base runners and that can be troublesome against a team the caliber of Buena Vista.
The bottom half of the region bracket has #13 Colorado Springs Christian facing #20 Dayspring Christian. CSCS dropped its final three games of the regular season, all by two runs or less. Two of them were against Buena Vista, 8-6 and 8-7. The Lions are one win away from matching the most for the program (13) in the MaxPreps era, which dates to 2008, and they’re also trying to get the program to its first ever state title game.
Taylor McLeod has been flat out raking this season, entering the postseason with a .719 average, second best in the classification. He also tops the Lions’ attack with 41 hits, 44 runs, 31 RBI, 17 XBH (including all four homers for the team). As if that’s not enough to get your attention, his 58 stolen bases lead the entire state. Ben Garl leads a group of five more hitters over .400 on the season, swatting at a .604 clip, tying him for second in the classification. He’s just one double away from double figures on the season. Casey Orawiec, who is hitting just under .400, has stolen 26 bags.
Isaac Brown has picked up eight wins on the mound, recording a 6.50 ERA in 51.2 innings, with a no-hitter to his credit. Garl has the top ERA on the staff at 3.85, but has not worked 10 innings, yet. Micah Davies and Luke German have worked 20 and 19.2 innings, respectively, with both having ERAs over five on the season. Davies has recorded a complete game and a pair of saves.
A sweep of Bishop Machebeuf two weeks ago helped Dayspring Christian end the regular season on a winning note. The Eagles had dropped their two previous contests, their third skid of at least a pair on the season. The program’s lone title game appearance came in 1997, when the Eagles finished second to Paonia.
The attack has two players with at least 10 doubles, as Josiah Rodriguez comes in with 11 two-baggers and Gage Davis has 10. Rodriguez also possesses one of the team’s three home runs, with the other two belonging to Peyton Coleman. Davis is the leading hitter at .500 and his 17 RBI ties him for second with Coleman behind Rodriguez, who has 20.
Davis has also been one of the better pitchers in the state this season, accumulating a six wins and a 1.97 ERA in 42.2 innings. Fifteen of the 27 runs he’s allowed have been unearned. Despite working 12 fewer innings, Logan Van Iddekinge is only seven strikeouts behind Davis for the team lead. Davis has 49 to 42 for Van Iddekinge.
Buena Vista will open the day at 10am, with the other semifinal following at around noon. The final is scheduled for 3pm.
REGION FIVE HOSTED BY HOLYOKE (SATURDAY)
The highest seeded of five LPAA teams, #5 Holyoke swept Sedgwick County to end the regular season with wins in seven of its last nine games. One of the two losses was a lopsided affair to another league team that is also in the same region, Wiggins, and the other was a two-run defeat by Limon. As a program, the Dragons have never played for a state baseball title.
Wyatt Sprague and Reid Sprague are 10th and 11th in the classification in batting average, coming in at .603 and .593, respectively. Wyatt has an even 20 XBH out of his 38 total knocks. That tally includes 17 doubles and a pair of homers. He leads the Dragons with 32 RBI and his 30 runs scored are second to Tyson Mosenteen, who has 37. Mosenteen also has two home runs this season, which has helped him rack up 26 RBI. The Dragons have swiped 125 bases as a team, with Mosenteen (23), R. Sprague (21), Ty Dirks (19), and W. Sprague (18) accounting for 81.
Holyoke’s team ERA is a bloated 7.42, with only 14 of the 137 runs allowed being unearned. Mosenteen is the lone pitcher with an ERA below six, coming in at 5.44 in 45 innings. He has a pair of no-nos to his credit and has struck out 72 hitters. Dirks and W. Sprague are the other two main arms for the Dragons, working 24.2 and 24.1 innings, respectively. Sprague has the better ERA at 6.33, with Dirks bringing one of 7.38 into the postseason. The staff has allowed 107 walks and has hit 30 batters.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for #28 Las Animas, who had losing streaks of three and four games early in the season, and only one winning streak of more than two. The Trojans were just 3-4 down the stretch, but their schedule was strong enough to earn a spot in the field. Las Animas has four crowns in program history, with those titles coming in 1968, 1972, 1973, and 2005. That last championship is also the last time the program made a final.
TJ Ortiz is in the top-15 in the classification with a .581 average and the junior leads the Trojans with 31 runs, 36 hits, 32 RBI, and 19 XBH. He has 13 doubles, four triples, and two homers. Conan Tyler has a .526 average and is second with 17 RBI, while Kree Wallace is second with 30 runs scored. With 25 stolen bases, Wallace is tops on the squad.
The two best pitchers for Las Animas both have ERAs right around four and a half, with Damien Baca at 4.50 and Ortiz at 4.51. Ortiz has tossed a perfect game and Baca has a no-hitter under his belt. Together, they’ve worked just over 68 innings, combining for 101 strikeouts and only 28 walks. Hitting opposing batters has been a big bugaboo for the Trojans, as they’ve plunked 41 on the season.
In the other semifinal, #12 Crowley County will bring an eight-game winning streak in to face #21 Wiggins. Half of the wins in the streak were by one run, including a doubleheader sweep of Fowler. The Chargers have won six state titles in their history, the most recent coming in 2000. The first came 70 years ago. They have not made it back to the finals since winning that last championship 23 years ago.
Logan Smith has broken on the scene as a freshman, leading the Chargers with a .514 average and 30 RBI. He’s also third with 26 runs scored. Byars Brown has turned his team-leading 39 hits into a .506 average and 20 RBI. Fifteen of those hits have gone for extra bases, including two homers. Blevyns Brown (36) and Dillon Buford (31) are the top two run scorers for the Chargers.
No one’s worked more than 27 innings on the season, with Buford handling that amount of the load. The senior has an ERA of 5.44, about half a run below the team’s number. Gunner Hughes has the same ERA, but has pitched nine fewer innings. Byars Brown and Seth Schultz have both thrown 14.1 innings and both have ERAs in the sixes.
For the Tigers, they lost their first five games of the season and eight of their first nine, but then put together a three-game winning streak to seemingly get back on track. However, that was followed by another three-game slide. They did get going with wins in five of their final seven. It’s been 21 years since the program put a state title in the trophy case, as the Tigers beat Akron in 2002 for their third championship. They have not played for the championship since.
There’s nobody hitting better than .400 on the squad, but Grayson Johnson and Cole Kerr are both over .370 on the season. Johnson leads at .379 and Kerr is close behind at .375. Almost half (11) of Johnson’s hits (28) have covered extra bases, with nine of them being doubles. Kerr has driven in a team-leading 16 runs on 15 hits. Julio Flores and Marcus Steinbar have each crossed the dish 23 times to lead the team.
Steinbar and Taryn Yzaguirre have done much of the heavy lifting for the Tigers on the hill, with Yzaguirre having 50 innings pitched and 34.1 for Steinbar. Yzaguirre has an ERA of 3.08 and 63 strikeouts, while Steinbar has 62 punch-outs and an ERA just over five. As a squad, Wiggins had drilled 46 batters.
The hosts will play at noon, with Crowley County and Wiggins squaring off at 3pm, and the finals will follow.
REGION TWO HOSTED BY PEYTON (SATURDAY)
Peyton spent most of the season undefeated and sitting atop the Seeding Index. That changed two weeks ago when Limon handed the Panthers their first loss of the season. Winning the second game of that DH started what is currently a four-game winning streak. The program’s lone title came four years ago, when the Panthers beat Fowler for the crown. After COVID wiped out the 2020 season, they made it back to the title game in 2021, but fell to Limon. The Panthers were upset by St. Mary’s in the semifinals last season, 13-12, in eight innings.
Logan Nickell, who is the only member of the team to have played in the 2021 title game, leads the squad in average (.506), runs (40), hits (39), and RBI (32). There’s a logjam right behind him in the scoring column, with AJ Kranz (39), Toby Redmond (38), and Bryce Love (35) all have scored more than 30 runs. Zayden Ebbert is only two RBI behind Nickell for the team lead. Nickell (3) and Kranz (2) have five of the team’s seven long balls.
As strong as the Panthers have been at the plate, they’ve been even better on the bump. As a unit, the pitching staff has recorded an ERA of 2.72, with three of their five coming in below that number. Ebbert and Owen Compton both have posted 1.80 ERAs, and Nickell is at 2.06 in a team-leading 37.1 innings. Love has worked 29.2 and Ebbert is at 23.1 for the season. Those last two are both freshmen.
Drawing the tough task of facing the host in the opening semifinal is #31 Custer County. The Bobcats had trouble avoiding losing streaks this season, as they enter on their third two-game slide of the year. They also had one that lasted for three games and the killer was a five-game skid. The program has had its share of ups in the 2000s, having won titles in 2001, 2008, and 2009. Those are the only championship game appearances in program history.
The Bobcats have only posted stats from a handful of games, which really isn’t enough to get a fair evaluation of the squad.
The early semifinal in the region has #15 Dawson School squaring off against #18 Swink. Dawson School only lost four games in the regular season, two against teams in the bracket. The Mustangs are seeking their second state title after winning their first in 2016. That’s the only time the program has reached a final.
The Mustangs have the top hitter in all of Colorado in Ashtin Gilio, who boasts an .806 average. The senior has reached base 29 times by way of hits in 36 at bats, and has also drawn 28 walks and been hit by a pitch five more times. With 41 runs scored, Gilio leads the team by four. Twenty-one of the 29 hits have been for extra bases, including five bombs. All of that has led to 33 RBI, second to Dawson Kusel, who has 34. Tyler Burridge has 11 doubles, two homers, and 37 runs scored.
Charles Heathwood has given up 19 earned runs in 41 innings, garnering an ERA of 3.24, while Kusel has worked 28 innings and has a 5.75 ERA. As a staff, the Mustangs have a 4.07 mark.
After struggling to find traction in the first few weeks of the season, Swink ripped off seven straight wins to solidify a spot in the bracket. The Lions could only muster a 3-3 record down the stretch and put together a 6-6 mark against teams in the bracket. If they make it to the state finals it would be the first time in program history.
Nick Paolucci, who is a pretty good golfer, is hitting .508 to lead the Lions, and 16 of his 32 hits have been XBH. That’s helped him score a team-leading 42 runs. Tack on 31 stolen bases, which also leads the team. Landon Mills has driven in 38 runs, in part because of his team-leading three home runs.
Paolucci has been equally impressive on the mound, registering a 6-1 mark, with a 3.56 ERA in 39.1 innings. He’s struck out 66 and only walked 19, and has a no-hitter to his credit. Nate Cabrera has also worked more than 30 innings and struck out 56, while Hunter Bauserman has recorded 39 Ks in 29 innings.
Dawson School and Swink get the day started at 10:30am, with Peyton and Custer County going at 1pm. The finals are slated for 4pm.
REGION SEVEN HOSTED BY RYE (SATURDAY)
Being swept by Fowler in a doubleheader on Tuesday, Rye slipped one spot in the final Seeding Index, pushing the Thunderbolts to the #7 seed. Those losses snapped a seven-game winning streak, but did not prevent the T-bolts from hosting a region. They’re seeking a fourth state title, after collecting crowns in 1960, 2011, and 2015. An appearance in the championship game would be the first for the program since that last championship.
After missing the first half of the season, Taye McCauley has come on strong, hitting .541 since returning to action. Even missing those 10 games, McCauley is still tied for third on the squad with 20 hits, only five behind leader Axton Ehrlich, who is second with 23 RBI. Leading Rye in that category is Riley Rochester, who has 24, to go with 10 XBH. Joe Valdez owns both of the team’s home runs.
Rochester and Aydin Swald have both pitched 38 innings, with Swald having a slightly lower ERA (3.13) compared to Rochester (3.87). They’ve combined to strikeout 127, with Swald recording 65. McCauley and Brandon Benz have thrown a total of 30.2 frames, with both punching out just over 20 hitters. The Thunderbolts have hit 41 opposing batters, 14 of them by Swald.
Drawing the hosts in the early semifinal is #26 Estes Park, who enters the postseason having dropped five straight and eight of the last nine. Five of the losses were by four runs or less. The Bobcats will have to pull off a string of upsets to reach the program’s first state title game.
Michael Bird finds his name at the top of practically every offensive stat for the Bobcats, including average (.590), hits (36), XBH (17), runs (30), RBI (27), and stolen bases (20). He possesses both of the team’s home runs. Isaac Hill, Michael McCown, and Dawson Ash have all scored more than 20 runs.
Five pitchers have tossed at least 13 innings, with two of them being freshmen. One of those rookies, Caleb Sumner, has 28 innings under his belt, while the other one, Zec Moss, is at 13.2 IP. Ash and McCown have combined for 46, while Ryland Reetz joins the crew with 15.2 on the year. The top ERA belongs to Ash at 2.66 and Sumner’s next with a 4.25 in his first season.
The other semifinal has last year’s runner-up, #10 St. Mary’s meeting up with #23 Trinidad. The Pirates made a late push to get into a hosting spot, winning their last four games by a combined score of 79-8. However, it wasn’t quite enough to offset a five-game slide that preceded the hot stretch. Last year’s trip to the finals was the first in their history, and they’ve shown flashes of being able to make it back if the pitching and hitting mesh at the same time.
Adam Jolicouer only got at bats in the final four games of the season, but he went 9-18 with three doubles, 8 runs, and 14 RBI. Cesar Martinez-Diaz leads the team with 28 hits and 28 RBI, with two of his hits going for four bags. Quinten Borchardt has used his speed to record 10 doubles and 22 stolen bases, leading to 43 runs scored.
Peter Ghigleri has been the most consistent pitcher for the Pirates, posting an ERA of 2.78 in 45.1 innings. He’s struck out 66 and walked 34. Borchardt has an ERA of 5.46 in his 41 innings of work. Ryan Strub has struck out just over one hitter per inning, with 31 in 28.1 frames.
Trinidad picked up four straight wins at the end of the regular season to even its record at 11-11, which was pretty solid after opening the season with losses in six of their first eight. The Miners have never played for a state title, and the path to getting there this year is pretty tough.
The top average among the regulars in the line-up is owned by freshman Anthony Sandoval, who comes in at .593. His ten XBH are tied with Jace Rogers for most on the team, with Jayson Guzzo one behind. Rogers has two homers in his tally, and Guzzo has one. Rogers has used his power to drive in a team-high 25 runs.
Joey Just leads the squad in innings pitched at 35, but his ERA is not where the junior would like, hovering above nine. The top ERAs on the squad belong to Sandoval (1.31) and Dario Vezzani (2.88), but they’ve only worked just over 27 innings between them. Vezzani owns a pair of saves on the season.
Rye and Estes have a 10am first pitch, with St. Mary’s and Trinidad scheduled for 12:30pm. The winners are slated to meet at 3:30pm.
REGION THREE HOSTED BY DENVER CHRISTIAN (SATURDAY)
Denver Christian spent most of the season inside the top three of the Seeding Index, and when the Thunder fell out, they weren’t out for very long. They are on a hot streak, winning their last five games, allowing just one run in that span. The Thunder is seeking a third state title, and first in a decade. They beat Lutheran for the championship in 2013, which was the last time the program played for a title.
Five regulars in the line-up are hitting .400 or better, led by Asher Hawes at .524. The junior has smashed three home runs, helping build his RBI total to 42, 17 more than Ari Waanders, who is second on the team, and comes in hitting .476 on the year. Nathan Buehrer and Mason Reilly have both scored more than 30 runs on the season, with Buehrer leading the team with 33 and Reilly at 31. Patrick Elson provides a speed threat on the bases, with 22 steals.
Pitching has been filthy this season, with the team posting a 1.50 ERA. Brayden Epperhart leads that unit with a 7-1 record and a ridiculous ERA of 0.19 in 37 innings. He’s been nearly unhittable, allowing 16 knocks on the year, with only one earned run. Reilly has been almost as impressive, going 3-0 with his ERA at 0.42 in 33.2 frames of work. He’s given up nine hits and two earned runs. The duo have combined for 106 strikeouts, with each having at least 50. As a unit, the Thunder pitchers have allowed fewer than three runs 16 times this season, including a dozen shutouts.
Byers (#30) is no stranger to the Thunder, as they met just two weeks ago. Denver Christian won that meeting 17-0 and got a no-hitter from Caleb Stork. The Bulldogs got five base runners, four on walks and one was hit by a pitch. The very young Byers squad started the season 0-5 and lost seven of its first eight. They would go through a seven-game skid in the middle of the season and close the regular season by losing three of their last five. The program made it to consecutive championship games in 2011 and 2012, dropping both. Those are the only previous title game appearances for the program.
The offense struggled to score runs during the year, scoring one run of less eight times. Garett Crecelius drove in a team-high 12, while Chase Long and Carson Gaudot both pushed 10 runs across the plate. Long has been very aggressive on the paths, stealing 39 bases and scoring 19 runs. Darren Egger has swiped 28 bags and is only two runs behind Long. Alan Brewer has been the top hitter for the Bulldogs, entering the postseason with a .361 average. No one else is over .300.
Long has been the #1 pitcher for the Bulldogs this season, recording four wins and posting a 5.94 ERA in 50.2 innings. He’s given up 111 runs, but only 43 have been earned. Wildness has hurt the junior, as he’s walked 54 and hit 10 more. Jaxzen Egger has the lowest ERA on the staff at 5.66 in 29.2 innings and D. Egger has worked 21.2 innings. Those two have combined for 72 walks.
The other semifinal has two teams both looking to get back on track with a win, as #14 Lyons takes on #19 Meeker. The Lions have dropped four in a row, including an 11-0 loss to Denver Christian on Tuesday. Most of their 13 wins came in two extended streaks, one of four games and then a six-game run later in the season. A state championship game berth would be the first in program history.
Freshman Jake LaCrosse has been a breakout star for Lyons this season, hitting .526 with 30 hits, 26 runs, 24 RBI, and a team-leading 14 stolen bases. Michael Ping leads the team with 30 RBI and three bombs, while Davis Abernathy has scored 32 runs and raced for five triples. Both are hitting well over .400 on the season. John Finn Oetting has added two home runs, and Wyatt Fitzgerald owns a dinger, too.
The top two arms in the rotation have been very solid this year, with Wyatt Waters and LaCrosse combining for 11 wins. Waters has an ERA of 2.58 in 62.1 innings, with 110 Ks and only 18 walks. LaCrosse owns a no-hitter and has an ERA of 3.57 in 33.1 innings. The freshman has recorded 56 strikeouts.
A six-game losing streak early in the season had the Meeker Cowboys behind the eight-ball, but they found their stride, winning eight straight to get over the .500 mark on the year. They would go 2-4 the rest of the way, dropping their last game. Like their opponent, the Cowboys are seeking their first title game appearance.
Jake Blazon has been a steady performer for Meeker, bringing in a .629 average, good for seventh in the classification. His 44 hits (11 doubles) and 35 RBI also lead the team. Ethan Quinn utilizes his speed, stealing 23 bases and scoring a team-high 39 runs. Spencer Gates brings some thump to the line-up, with all three of the team’s home runs.
Pitching has been a bit of an issue, with the team posting an ERA just over six. Blazon and Ryan Sullivan each have ERAs of 3.00, with each working 11.2 innings. Jonathan Fittzgibbons (35.2) and Carson Klinzmann (35) are the team leaders in workload, and both have ERAs over six.
Lyons and Meeker will play at 10am, with Denver Christian and Byers to follow at 12:30pm. The finals are scheduled for a 3pm first pitch.
REGION SIX HOSTED BY FOWLER (SATURDAY)
Going into the final day of the regular season, Fowler was sitting ninth in the Seeding Index and looking at having to travel for regionals. The Grizzlies took matters into their own hands and swept Rye to climb all the way to #6, earning the right to host the region. They are definitely tested, going 8-7 against teams in the 2A bracket, and they also beat a team that qualified for the 1A regional field. It’s only been four years since the program last made a title game, finishing second to Peyton in 2019. Fowler has won three titles in the program’s history, with those coming in 1984, 1987, and 1990.
Caiden Thompson and Hagen McCuistion are neck and neck in the batting race, with Thompson leading at .519 and McCuistion at .515, helping the Grizzlies to a team average of .409 on the season. McCuistion has scored 41 runs, just ahead of Harrison Proctor’s 37, and his 20 stolen bases are also the best on the squad. Jakob Manchego leads with 34 RBI, one more than Gage Gottbehuet. They are tied with Aidan Smith with 11 XBH.
Proctor (47.2) and Gottbehuet (41.2) have each worked more than 40 innings, and have combined for 11 wins. Gottbehuet comes in with an ERA of 1.68, while Proctor’s number is quite a bit higher at 5.29. Weston Johnson has the lowest mark on the staff at 1.45, to go with two wins and two saves. Almost half of the runs allowed by the Grizzlies have been unearned, with only 67 of 127 being earned.
Playing in the loaded LPAA, which put eight of nine teams in either the 1A or 2A brackets, #27 Yuma had trouble picking up wins. They went threw a five-game losing streak early in the season, and after a modest three-game winning streak, Yuma dropped their next 11 games, only breaking the slide in their finale against Byers. Getting to the first state title game in program history will be a tough task.
Despite missing five games, Silas Baucke leads the team with a .542 average, 26 hits, 18 RBI, and four home runs. He has a total of 13 XBH, with a team-leading eight doubles. Angel Escobar has stolen 16 bases, leading to a team-high 22 runs scored. Freshman Reyli Trejo is second with 15 RBI.
Entering the postseason with a team ERA of 8.18, Yuma only has one player with a mark under six, and that’s Baucke at 5.30. The sophomore has struck out 67 in 38.1 innings. Trejo leads in inning pitched at 40.2, and has an ERA of 7.40, just ahead of Jake Hagemeier (7.41). The really ugly numbers for Yuma are 85 unearned runs, 152 free base runners, and 57 wild pitches.
Two teams with a propensity for scoring a lot of runs will meet in the other semifinal, with #11 Del Norte facing #22 Rangely. Del Norte scored double digits in 11 of its 15 wins, topping 20 three times, one of which was a 32-run outburst. The Tigers hope to ride that offensive firepower to the program’s first ever title game berth.
The chase for the team lead in batting average is tight, with Ben Parra (.492) holding a slight edge over Tyler Gallegos (.483). Parra also leads with 28 RBI and 12 XBH, while Gallegos leads with 39 runs and 36 stolen bases. Five players have at least 20 steals for the Tigers, including Tytus Atencio (28), Parra (26), Nickolas Atencio (22), and Aiden Medina.
N. Atencio has paced the Tigers on the hill, racking up four wins and a 2.03 ERA in 48.1 innings. The junior has struck out 87 and walked 20 in his work to date. Parra has tossed 39 innings and has an ERA of 5.03. T. Atencio has the second best ERA on the team at 4.08 in 24 innings.
The other half of this potential shoot-out, Rangely, scored double digits in eight of its 10 victories, including a high of 23 against Cedaredge. After beginning the season 0-3 and losing four of five, the Panthers won its next five to get some momentum. However, they would only win consecutive games one more time during the regular season and they enter the postseason on a two-game skid. Just like Del Norte, Rangely is trying to get to the first championship game in program history.
Marcos Quintana regularly puts the ball in play, and most of the time, it winds up as a hit. The sophomore is tied for eighth in the classification with an average of .604, and he leads the Panthers with 27 RBI and 12 XBH (all doubles). With great speed, Kevin Wren has used his .508 average into a team-leading 33 stolen bases. Luis Quintana is one four players with at least 20 runs scored, leading the way with 28. The others are Wren (25), Kobey Chism (23), and M. Quintana (21).
M. Quintana is the only pitcher on the squad with an ERA under seven, and he comes in at 5.89 in 38 innings. Tristan Scott and Landon Carlson have both worked 21.2 frames, with Carlson having an ERA of 7.75 and Scott posting a mark of 9.05 on the year. The Panthers have allowed more walks (126) than they have strikeouts (122). Add in 36 hit batters and they’ve allowed 162 free runners.
Fowler and Yuma will start things at 10am, with Del Norte and Rangely scheduled for 12:30pm. The winners will meet at 3pm.