Postseason baseball has a tendency to sneak up each spring. As the end of the regular season approaches and the calendar turns to May, there are still plenty of regular-season games around the state that feature league implications as well as ramifications when it comes to RPI.
Perennial powers will try to wrap up league titles, but the overall road to a championship gets far more complicated once regionals get started in a few weeks.
Down the stretch there are at least 10 games across the state that will have implications when it comes to the playoff picture. Here's a quick look at those top contests remaining:Class 5AMountain Vista (Highlands Ranch) at Douglas County (Castle Rock) (April 29):
The top-ranked team in 5A will face yet another tough test this weekend when they travel to Continental League foe Douglas County. The defending state champion Golden Eagles are getting everything they were hoping for, and more, from last year's player of the year Sam Ireland
. He has a 4-0 pitching record and a 1.30 ERA to go with a .414 batting average.
Mountain Vista also has received solid production on the mound from freshman Tyler Mejia
. The southpaw has thrown 16.2 innings and allowed just seven earned runs this season. In four innings against Rocky Mountain he gave up just one run as Mountain Vista got the 10-2 win.
The Huskies have stormed into the league championship picture this season behind the strength of Micah Barkenhagen
. The junior has been hitting the cover off the baseball in 2019. His .432 average is among the best on the roster, but he has blasted four home runs this season. Fellow junior Case Williams
has also thrived on the mound, keeping his ERA under 1.00 all season. He was brilliant on Mar. 27 when he threw a no-hitter against Cherokee Trail (Aurora).Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins) at Heritage (Littleton) (May 11):
With the regular season coming to a close, the non-league battle between Rocky Mountain and Heritage will have major implications toward the top eight teams in the RPI ratings.
The Eagles have already shown they belong among the top teams in the classification. They beat Regis Jesuit (Aurora) 6-5 on April 23 in a game where sophomore Alex Champagne
went 2-for-3 with an RBI. He also scored three runs. They lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Mountain Vista earlier in the year.
Rocky Mountain has been dialed in with ace Jake Campbell
on the mound. The senior has struck out 33 hitters and walked just five in his 32 innings pitched. Offensively, it's Ben Knauer
who provides a spark for the Lobos. He has a team-high 13 RBI on the season and is just one of two players on the team hitting better than .400.
Of Rocky Mountain's three in-state losses this year, two have been to teams ranking in the top 12 of 5A's RPI.Pine Creek (Colorado Springs) at Regis Jesuit (May 11):
The same day as Rocky Mountain and Heritage square off, another big-stakes matchup takes place in Aurora. Pine Creek will bring Riley Cornelio
(arguably the best pitcher in the state) to Regis Jesuit. The Eagles have been showcasing their ace all year and he shined in a win against Lake Oswego when Pine Creek traveled to Arizona in March. According to pro scouts at the game, he dialed up fastballs to 95 mph, showing he possesses major league heat.
He'll have to deal with a stacked lineup of Raiders hitters, five of whom are batting better than .380. Caden Wagner
has been pounding the ball this season as he leads all 5A hitters with six home runs. Regis sits at No. 3 in the RPI right now thanks in part to a brutal schedule.
This regular-season finale for both squads could determine which team solidifies a spot as a regional host.Class 4APueblo West at Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs) (May 11):
A battle of 4A's top two teams should provide a fitting end to the regular season, considering there's a chance they could be the two teams concluding postseason play, as well.
The Indians have one of the deepest pitching staffs in the state. Devin Dodson
and Michael Ellis
have shown to be the frontline starters while Brad Helton
, Bo Iacobbo
, Cam Buckler
and Grant Mondejar
have been solid is matchup situations.
Mondejar and Aaron Berkhoff
are each batting over .500, giving Cheyenne Mountain solid balance between pitching and offense.
The pitching will be key as Pueblo West is one of the deepest hitting teams in the state. Five players in the Cyclones' starting lineup are batting over .500 and they're doing it with finesse. Only Brodie Blackford
is among the high-average hitters who has hit a home run this year.Centaurus (Lafayette) at Silver Creek (Longmont) (May 2):
Centaurus has had quite the rebound season and is looking to keep that momentum going into May. When the Warriors travel to Silver Creek on May 2, they will have an opportunity to get a big win and make a pivotal jump in the RPI.David Jachimiak
, Nick Van Tassel
, Brayden Rizzi
and Carson Renjillian
have all struck out at least 15 hitters when on the mound this year. Rizzi has also been solid at the plate as he leads Centaurus with seven extra-base hits – six doubles and one home run.
Silver Creek is in the top 10 of 4A RPI and will look to stay there as it finishes off the season with two games against the Warriors and two games against Longmont. If Spencer Rich
stays hot, the Raptors will be a lock to host when regionals begin. He leads Silver Creek in almost every offensive category including runs scored (25), RBI (22), triples (six) and home runs (four).Class 3AEaton at University (Greeley) (May 4):
Two of 3A's traditional baseball powers will face off in what could be the battle for the No. 1 overall seed in the state tournament.
The Ure brothers, Jared Ure
and Ryan Ure
, look to have a sibling rivalry going as to who will be the one to lead the Reds back to a state title. Both are batting over .400, and on the mound are keeping their opponents' batting average under .200.
The defending 3A champions, the Bulldogs have continued to win as a team. Five pitchers have earned wins this season and the combined team ERA is 2.25. Sophomore Nolan Johnson
leads the team with a .488 batting average and has scored 23 runs this season.St. Mary's (Colorado Springs) at La Junta (May 4):
A doubleheader in the Tri-Peaks East could have far reaching implications for either team. The Tigers need a bit of an RPI boost to stay at home for regionals, while St. Mary's looks to maintain its status as one of the top 10 teams in the classification.
La Junta has been solid from a pitching standpoint as Cody Schrock
has given up just three earned runs in 15 innings. Ty Addington
's 2-3 record is deceiving when considering his ERA is hovering around 2.75. The problem for the Tigers has come from the offensive side; they're hitting .293 as a team.
The Pirates have a similar situation as Edwin Romo
and Anthony Depner
have each thrown more than 35 innings this year and have given up just 20 combined earned runs. A team batting average of .278 is the major concern for this team. It does get production from its heavy hitters, as Romo has driven in 11 runs while Sam Baldwin
has 16 RBI on the year.Class 2APeyton at Rye (April 30):
It's hard to argue against Peyton's position as the top team in 2A. Behind senior Rodney Gregg
, the Panthers haven't had much trouble winning in 2019. He's hitting .571 with four home runs and
27 RBI. And he's a better pitcher than a hitter. In 30 innings he's given up just three earned runs while notching 45 strikeouts.
The Thunderbolts are going to try and counter Gregg's production with Bryce Benz
. The junior is batting a staggering .636 with three home runs of his own. Peyton's trip down south is going to provide the small school equivalent of Godzilla vs. King Kong.Yuma at Holyoke (May 4):
A season-ending doubleheader is going to have major implications on the 2A state playoff picture. Both teams sit in the top 10 of the 2A RPI, and each will be looking to improve their positions with a sweep.Blake Mosenteen
and Hunter Bergstrom
have solid batting averages, and Mosenteen has been a horse on the mound, pitching a team-high 29 innings for the Dragons. Opposing hitters have a .214 average against him.
Junior Chase McCreath
has kept his batting average over .500 this year for Yuma. He's scored 18 runs on the year, second to Manny Tena,
who has crossed home 20 times.Class 1ASpringfield at Granada (April 25):
Granada's last effort to take over the top spot in the 1A RPI comes Thursday when Springfield comes to town. Freshman Dominic Coleman
has been a welcome addition to the Bobcats with a batting average north of .600 and 19 RBI to his name. He's also put together a 5-2 record on the mound, which should excite Granada fans heading into the 1A state tournament.
Springfield is looking to play spoiler with senior Patrick Jones
leading the charge. Like Coleman, his average is soaring over .600 and he's scored 21 runs this year. The matchup featuring these two hitters is going to be must-see action to wrap up the regular season for each school.Honorable mentions – 5A:
Legend (Parker) at Chaparral (Parker) (April 25); 4A:
Palmer Ridge (Monument) at Lewis-Palmer (Monument) (April 30); 3A:
Sterling at Resurrection Christian (Loveland) (April 27); 2A:
Wray at Wiggins (April 27); 1A:
Dove Creek at Nucla (April 27)