Colorado teams certainly stuck out as anomalies when it came to this year's American Legion Western Regional tournament. Whereas Rocky Mountain struck out, however, the Boulder Post 10 squad that hosted the event at Scott Carpenter Park put together a run that will be remembered by the players for quite a while.
But building on what they accomplished by going 2-2 at the tournament is what the Panthers — a rare participant like the Lobos comprised entirely of players from one school — really want to focus on.
"I think we started out a little unsure of who we would be at the beginning, but you could certainly see us grow over the summer and I think you saw that in the last couple of tournaments," said rising senior Aiden Chandler after the Panthers' run came to an end Saturday at the hands of California Post 82, 11-4. "We competed with these teams that are older than us, and it's just been a fun summer.
"We're going to have a great spring team. Guys are going to be competing to be starters, and that's just going to push everyone."
Coached this summer by a group of four Boulder High graduates — Tim Kupfner, Todd Calvin, Eddie Toledo and Tim Kupfner Jr. — the Panthers continued to show they were a team that wants to be talked about in the spring of 2017. Just three players — 2016 graduates Isaac Parks, Jake L'Heureux and Jordan Wardell — were on the summer-ending tournament roster that will for sure not be back in the spring.
"The core of this team comes back, and they are set up for success," said the elder Kupfner, whose team beat the New Mexico and Nevada state champions this past week. "They're teammates and friends who have one more shot to do something special."
Chandler remembers well a few years back when many of his current teammates went to Waco, Texas representing the North Boulder Little League in the Southwest Regional.
In their own backyard, this tournament had a very familiar feel for he and his teammates.
"All of the seniors have played together since we were 9 years old," Chandler said. "This is the culmination of everything we've worked for so we'll see how everything unfolds."
In Saturday's finale, Boulder Post 10 out-hit the San Mateo-based California team 14-10, but just a few costly defensive miscues got the Panthers in trouble. A 2-2 contest became 5-2 in the fifth frame with a missed chance for an out at second base, and another error early in the seventh inning sparked a five-run rally for California to put the game away.
Ben Davis took the loss, allowing 10 runs (just four earned).
Again, however, there was consistency in the lineup that will help compete in the Front Range League next spring. Chandler hit a home run among his three hits; Jackson Dinkel had three hits; and Davis and Jacob Katz each had two, including a Katz triple.
"Our first goal was to earn our way to the state playoffs, which we did. Our next goal was to make sure we belonged at this tournament, and getting this deep showed we definitely belonged," Kupfner said. "I'm super proud to be the last team left that is just us, not a team made up of four or five schools."
San Mateo (4-0) has scored 51 runs in four games and will play Arizona Post 7 out of Tucson (3-1) on Sunday for the regional title and a place in the ALB World Series in Shelby, N.C., next week.
American Legion Western Regional
California Post 82 11, Boulder Post 10 4
At Scott Carpenter Park
San Mateo 002 030 501 — 11 12 1
Boulder 000 200 020 — 4 14 3
W — Ramon Enriquez. L — Ben Davis.
San Mateo hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Tyler Villaroman 5-1-2-0, Angelo Bortolin 6-2-3-3, Felix Aberouette 4-1-1-1, Ramon Enriquez 4-1-2-1, Vincenzo Venturi 0-0-0-0, Cole Anderson 0-0-0-0, Mitchell DeMartini 0-0-0-1, Kaleb Keelean 6-1-1-0, Tyler Brandenburg 4-1-0-0, Jordan Brandenburg 4-0-1-4, Alex Pennes 1-1-0-0, Nick Knecht 4-2-2-0, Ricardo Barraza 3-1-0-0. Totals 41-11-12-10. 2B —Bortolin, J. Brandenburg. SB —Villaroman, Bortolin, Keelean.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Ben Davis 5-0-2-0, Brendan Van Haute 5-0-0-0, Jacob Katz 5-0-2-0, Cooper Moore 3-0-1-0, Jordan Wardell 1-0-1-0, Derek Cunningham 4-2-1-0, Mason Hitz 5-0-0-0, Aiden Chandler 4-2-3-2, Jackson Dinkel 4-0-3-0, Ethan Prout 1-0-0-0, Noel Hackett 1-0-1-2. Totals 38-4-14-4. 2B — Cunningham, Hackett. 3B —Katz. HR —Chandler. SB —Katz.
San Mateo pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Enriquez 7-9-2-2-3-2, Cole Anderson 0.1-2-2-2-0-0, Aberouette 1.2-3-0-0-0-0.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Davis 6.1-9-10-4-3-1, Hackett 2.2-3-1-1-4-1.