Coal Ridge baseball breezes by regional competition, moves on to Class 3A state tournament
The outcomes of Coal Ridge High School’s two baseball regional games on the home diamond in Peach Valley Saturday were never really in question in the late innings, as the undefeated and fourth-seeded Titans cruised to 11-1 and 11-2 wins over Wellington and Brush, respectively, to advance to next weekend’s 3A state tournament in Greeley.
Against No. 29 Wellington, the Titans jumped on top early, taking a 4-0 lead over four innings, then exploding for six runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Freshman Dylan Miller was two-for-four at the plate with three runs batted in, and junior Alexis Serna had two RBIs off one-for-three hitting. Senior Brandon Short and freshman George Roberts had two stolen bases each.
Short was dominant in getting the pitching win, with 12 strikeouts and no earned runs, and nearly pitching a perfect game but for a late infielding error and walk.
The story was a little different against No. 20 Brush, which knocked off the higher-seeded La Junta team, 8-5, in the second game of the day. Against Coal Ridge, the Beetdiggers went up 1-0 in the second inning before the Titans answered with two runs in the bottom of the second when sophomore shortstop Jakson Slade hit a triple to put the host team up 2–1. Coal Ridge scored two more in the third, and Brush pulled it to within 4-2 after four innings, before the Titans took control, scoring two more in the fifth and busting loose for five more runs to seal the deal in the sixth.
Serna had three RBIs on one-for-two hitting, and Miller was two-for-four, also with three RBIs. Sophomore Ben Simons got the pitching win with seven strikeouts and two earned runs.
Titans coach Dan Larsen said it was good for the team (now 25-0) to see some different teams after going unbeaten through the competitive 3A Western Slope League this season.
“I definitely think that some of the teams in our own conference — Delta, Basalt and Roaring Fork — gave us a good indication of what the competition will be like at state, but it was good to see a couple of teams out of the Patriot League,” Larsen said.
Come next weekend, the eight-team field will include Patriot League champs and No. 1 seed Eaton, 12-0 winners over Roaring Fork on Saturday to advance. Delta also advanced with 16-0 and 13-3 over Pagosa Springs and Sterling, respectively.
“I think we’ve pretty much solidified ourselves as a top-five team in 3A,” Larsen said. “Being undefeated and handling every new challenge, I think we’re playing outstanding ball right now. I like our chances, and if we’re firing on all cylinders it will be fun to see what they can accomplish.”
Larsen said Short and Simons stand out as two of the top starting pitchers in the state, as well.
Brackets for the double-elimination format 3A tournament had not yet been released on Sunday morning. The tournament will be held at Butch Butler Field at University High School in Greeley on Friday and Saturday, May 26-27, concluding June 2-3.
In other Saturday regional action, No. 17 Roaring Fork defeated No. 16 Alamosa 3-0 in the Eaton regional, with runs in the first, fourth and seventh, before suffering the shutout loss to Eaton to end the Rams’ season at 15-10. Roaring Fork graduates six seniors: Alexi Alvarez, Eddie Hernandez, Sebastian Silva, Brayden Bell, Brady Samuelson and Ryan Metheny.
Playing at University-Greeley, No. 18 Basalt lost 10-0 to No. 15 Valley to also end the Longhorns’ season at 11-13. Basalt graduates three seniors, Cooper Crawford, Chaney Morris and Kade Schneider.
In the 4A regionals, No. 25 Rifle lost 10-0 to host and No. 8 seed Windsor. The Bears finish at 12-10 and graduate five seniors: Kade Street, Austin Bowlan, Connor Abbott, Broderick Tollefson and Ryan Thomas.
Post Independent interim managing editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at email@example.com or at 970-384-9160.
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