got the ball rolling – unfortunately the remainder of the Colorado prep baseball teams are still playing a game of catch-up.
The Buffaloes claimed the Class 1A state championship May 17, the program's second overall and first since 2014. Brayden Nichols
tossed two-hit ball over seven innings with 12 strikeouts in Caliche's 5-2 victory against defending state champion Nucla at All-Star Park in Lakewood.
That was supposed to be the start for the rest of the state headed into state-tournament play last weekend. It worked out for 2A, which was able to complete the first two rounds of play. But Mother Nature wreaked havoc on much of the Front Range and northeastern portions of the state, with heavy rains delaying the first two days of double-elimination tournaments.
The eight teams in 5A lost only a few days and were able to squeeze in games last Monday and Tuesday in Denver. The final four will take to the field Saturday and hopefully crown a new state champion Sunday at All City Field in Denver.
But it wasn't that easy for 4A and 3A, the latter of which has yet to play a single game in Greeley. That will be rectified Friday morning with games at Butch Butler and University High School – the semifinals and championship game will be played June 1 and 2, with the title game held at Butch Butler.
For 4A, chaos briefly ruled earlier in the week. Play last Friday and Saturday was washed out and initially rescheduled for Monday, but were delayed again because of wet fields. Once it was determined those fields could be playable earlier than this weekend, that schedule was reset with games last Tuesday and Wednesday, some of which went late into the night because of lightning delays. The final four is set though, and the semifinals will take place May 29, with the championship game on May 30 at All-City Field.
The 2A semifinals are Saturday morning at Hobbs Field at the Runyon Sports Complex in Pueblo, with the championship game set for noon.
Got all that? If so, let's take a deeper look into the final week-plus of games before the last four state champions of the 2017-18 school year are crowned:
Overview: Of the four remaining teams, only Arapahoe has won a state title (AAA in 1980). Mountain Vista was the last of the group to make the title game, losing to Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins) in 2009.
Heritage (19-5) is in the driver's seat as the only undefeated team in the bracket. The Eagles are guaranteed to play for the title after defeating Arapahoe 7-4 last Tuesday in the winner's bracket game. Sophomore Conner Cummiskey
drove in two runs and Eric McKnight
picked up the victory with five scoreless innings. The Eagles defeated Mountain Range and Pine Creek (Colorado Springs) on Monday to advance to Tuesday's game. Senior Riley Egloff
has been one of the state's elite pitchers, going 7-0 with a 1.92 ERA and 63 strikeouts to only five walks.
Heritage draws Mountain Vista (23-1) in Saturday's first game. The Golden Eagles were undefeated coming into the first round but lost 8-1 to Arapahoe. Mountain Vista regrouped to defeat defending champion Rocky Mountain and Pine Creek to stay alive. Junior Sam Ireland
leads the team with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs, and he and Jack Liffrig
were a combined 20-0 on the mound coming into state.
Arapahoe and Mountain Range will face off in the other semifinal game. Arapahoe (16-8) has senior Brandon Dryer
(.471, 25 RBIs, three home runs) leading the charge offensively, with Garrett DeClue
(8-1, 2.08 ERA, 72 strikeouts) leading the rotation.
Mountain Range (19-5) has advanced this far for the first time in school history. After getting shut out by Heritage in the opener, the Mustangs eliminated Rock Canyon (Highlands Ranch) and Cherokee Trail (Aurora). Senior Mike Polson
tossed a four-hit shutout against the Jaguars and senior Jacob Simmons
drove in three runs against the Cougars.
Final four: Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
, Pueblo West
, Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
Pueblo West had a tough road to locking up a spot in the state title game. The Cyclones (19-4) had to get past Longmont in the first round and two-time defending state champion Valor Christian after that. Pueblo West then handed Windsor just its second loss of the season, a 7-6 victory in the winner's bracket game. Sophomores Dylan Gist
and Brodie Blackford
each had three hits and Devon Neff
picked up the victory.
The Cyclones, who lost in the title game in 2013 and 2016, play Cheyenne Mountain at noon on Tuesday. Six regulars are batting above .400, and junior Tyler Declusin
has an impressive 33 RBI and 33 runs scored. Ty Garcia
and Kaleb Woltz
are a combined 12-1 on the mound.
Cheyenne Mountain (17-7) sandwiched victories against Evergreen and Holy Family (Broomfield) around a loss to Windsor. Jack Denker
, Chase McCleary
and Aaron Berkhoff
each have 29 hits, and sophomore Michael Ellis is 8-0 on the mound with a 2.00 ERA.
Tuesday morning's first game between Windsor (22-2) and Valor Christian (20-3) isn't to be missed. Valor's loss to Pueblo West was the team's first in-state setback this spring, but the Eagles rebounded by shutting out Roosevelt (Johnstown) 10-0 thanks to a four-hit shutout from freshman Radek Birkholz
. Senior Ryan Barber
(.477, 24 RBI, 24 runs scored, four home runs) has been a consistent force at the plate; Seniors Josh Danyliw
and Zechariah Reid
are a combined 16-1.
Windsor shut out Roosevelt 2-0 and hammered Cheyenne Mountain 11-2 before falling to Pueblo West. Junior Owen Lockner
leads the Wizards with five home runs and Keegan Vialpando
has drive in a team-high 20 runs. Windsor's team ERA is just 1.27, with junior Logan Thorton
(8-0, 0.95 ERA) and senior Ryan Jares
(7-1, 1.57) are a formidable 1-2 punch.
Final eight: Delta
, Faith Christian (Arvada)
, Kent Denver (Englewood)
, Lutheran (Parker)
, Peak to Peak (Lafayette)
, University (Greeley)Overview:
Before Valley (Gilcrest) defeated Eaton for the 3A title in 2017, Eaton, Faith Christian and Holy Family had won the previous 10 state titles. Four of the final eight teams are from the Metro League, and two more from the Patriot.
Lamar (20-1) needed extra innings to get past Jefferson Academy (Broomfield) in the district title game. The Savages are powered by senior Davin Jacobs
(six home runs, 35 RBI), and Dalton Chandler
struck out 95 batters in just more than 40 innings pitched, allowing only two earned runs.Lamar opens with Lutheran (12-8-1), which upset La Junta and Bennett in district play. Tyler Eldred
is 4-1 with a 1.19 ERA and Noa Vogel
has driven in a team-high 32 runs.
Eaton (17-3), winner of 14 in a row, faces Peak to Peak (14-6). Eaton's Zeke Hass
has mashed the ball to the tune of four home runs and 28 RBI to go with 28 runs scored. Jared Ure
has five home runs, and has forged a strong top to the rotation with Travis Cunningham
– both pitchers have an ERA less than 2.00. The Pumas' Matt Bagnato
scored 35 runs and has eight triples and 25 steals.
University (19-2) opens with Western Slope League champion Delta (15-6). University's Grayson Swanson
(.493, eight home runs, 40 RBI, 32 runs) is one of 3A's most dangerous hitters, and the Bulldogs have a balanced pitching staff. Delta has three players hitting .500 or above, led by Jaspar Carmichael
(.535, 37 runs scored).
Faith Christian (18-3) draws an upstart Kent Denver (11-9) team that was the No. 4 seed in District 3, but upset Sterling and Cedaredge to advance to state. Noah VanSickle
has six home runs and 32 RBI for the Sun Devils. Junior Macklin Brockmeyer
leads the Eagles with 34 hits, 38 runs scored and 17 steals; junior Michael Thorne
(7-0, 1.43 ERA, 70 strikeouts) anchors the rotation.
Final four: Dayspring Christian (Greeley)
Top-seeded Peyton has been dominant this spring, with the Panthers (21-1) outscoring opponents 243-57. Junior Jaeden Meyers
leads the team with a .547 average and 41 hits and has scored 39 runs. Junior Rupert Shaw
has driven in a team-high 32 runs, and freshman Brandon Hussey
has scored 41 runs. On the mound Peyton has a team ERA of 1.80, and junior Rodney Gregg
is 9-0 with a 1.30 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 64.2 innings. Peyton hasn't faced a team from the Western Slope League, though, until it plays Hotchkiss on Saturday morning.
Defending state champion Paonia (21-2) and Hotchkiss (19-3) both made it from the WSL, playing each other three times this spring (Paonia leads the series 2-1). The Eagles have two of the state's best in seniors with Kayden Seriani
(.575, 12 home runs, 57 RBI, 49 runs scored) and Jaden Miller
(.616, six home runs, 53 RBI, 46 runs scored). Seriani is 7-1 on the mound with a 0.84 ERA and 103 strikeouts. Miller is 7-0 with a 1.79 ERA and 58 strikeouts – the duo has given up a combined six walks all year.
Hotchkiss doesn't have the prolific offensive statistics of its WSL counterpart, but the Bulldogs have balance. Six players drove in at least 19 runs; junior Presley Pene
leads the team with a .436 average, 34 hits and 35 runs scored. Senior Jonathan Gonzalez
is the staff ace with a 6-1 record, 1.59 ERA and 89 strikeouts.
Dayspring Christian (14-5), which draws Paonia in the semifinals, upset No. 2 Sedgwick County in the quarterfinals. Seth Mondragon
, Jimmy Fargo
and Koby Anderson
have combined for 77 hits, and the team has stolen 107 bases. Fargo is 7-2 with a 1.07 ERA and 98 strikeouts.