Three Rivers advances to semifinals
AURORA – The Three Rivers All-Stars baseball team received a little bonus in the first round of the Colorado State Junior Little League Tournament.
Not only did Three Rivers advance to the semifinal round of the tournament with a convincing 11-5 win over Grand County, but, thanks to an early lead, the All-Stars were able to save pitcher Beau Chicoine for the second-round contest today.
Three Rivers leapt out to a 9-0 lead in the first inning at the Arapahoe Little League Complex, and never allowed Grand County back in the contest.
“Nine runs in the first inning was amazing,” Three Rivers coach T.J. Joiner said. “We wanted to get out on top and we did. We chased their pitcher out of the game.”
Jeremy Christner and Kyle Raaflaub had the key hits in the flurry of scoring, with Raaflaub notching an RBI and Christner tallying a pair of RBIs.
“The bottom of the order came through for me again,” Joiner said.
Three Rivers also benefited from Grand County pitcher Matt Green’s control problems in the first inning. Three Rivers earned six walks and two hits in the frame.
While Green was pulled in the opening inning for the typical reasons, Chicoine also didn’t make it to the second inning. Chicoine was replaced by Raaflaub after the first and, having only pitched one inning, he is available to start today’s semifinal showdown against Academy.
Being off the mound didn’t stop Chicoine from contributing, however. Chicoine, who was in a slump at the plate during Districts, went 3-for-3 and scored a run. Additionally, he was dazzling at shortstop, according to Joiner.
“His defense was phenomenal,” Joiner said. “He made some pro-style plays.”
After Grand County scored a pair of runs in the top of the third inning, Three Rivers broke into double digits – and nearly much more. With the bases loaded Christner hit a deep fly ball to the fence. Instead of a grand slam, Christner was awarded a sacrifice fly for his third RBI of the game and a 10-2 Three Rivers lead.
Grand County’s Green and John Rogers hit back to back homers to close the margin to 10-5 in the top of the sixth inning, but Grand County never got closer.
Nick Harris wrapped up the scoring by knocking in Jake Bowman for a Three Rivers insurance run in the bottom of the frame.
Raaflaub pitched five innings after replacing Chicoine, giving up five runs.
“Kyle Raaflaub pitched five really strong innings and was really a bulldog,” Joiner said. “He gave up five in five innings, but really pitched great.”
Nick Harris didn’t allow a hit pitching the seventh inning.
Three Rivers faces Academy out of Colorado Springs today at 10 a.m. The winner advances to the tournament finals. Academy beat Platte County/Bailey 8-1 Saturday.
“They look like a very strong team, but their No. 1 pitcher was used up and we’ve got Beau going,” Joiner said. “That’s a luxury we can take advantage of.”
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