BOULDER — The emotions spewed forth by Fairview's Jake Willemsen after making a diving catch in the ninth inning Wednesday afternoon said it all.
It may be summer baseball, but the Knights' American Legion A team is fully invested in trying to win the state championship. They got off to a great start in their quest to win it on their home field, too, out-lasting Windsor 4-3 in 11 intense innings.
Fairview has the unique opportunity of hosting the Legion A Elite tournament, and Willemsen is joined by several graduated seniors who are trying to go out in style at the FHS field.
"We're looking to go out with a bang," Willemsen said after the team advanced to the winner's bracket, pitting them against Rocky Mountain on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Style points weren't exactly the order of the day for either team early on, as bad baserunning and execution in some key situations helped contribute to each team plating just one run apiece through 10 frames.
In the ninth, though, Fairview seized a bit of momentum and that carried out into the 11th when it was able to plate three runs.
The visitors on the scoreboard by way of being a lower seed, Fairview found itself on the verge of being walked off as Windsor got a baserunner to third with nobody out. Tyler Carpenter, who relieved Will Mossa in the fourth, proceeded to strike out two batters before Willemsen made the play of the summer — sprawling out to nab a sinking liner in right field to end the threat.
The dugout erupted — as did Willemsen trotting in with fresh grass stains on his pants. It was a total team rally in the 11th, as Fairview loaded the bases with one out, got a go-ahead run on a Logan McMinn bunt and made it 3-1 on Cole Carrigan's high chopper that went as a fielder's choice. Will Mossa hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1, a needed run as Windsor continued to fight in its last at-bat.
"It really was the little things, and we learned over the course of the game," Willemsen said. "We do have a bunch of young guys, and there may have been some jitters coming in. But you can see us come together there at the end."
Without a Legion league win through eight games at one point, Fairview is now on quite a roll having won nine of 12 games.
"They showed me a lot of growth today, and that was a really fun game," Fairview head coach David Castillo said. "We were neck and neck the whole game, and it was exciting to see that one get across and then to add to that.
"This is the last time for some of these guys, and the older kids have really taken the young ones under their wing. But for those older guys, they're fighting for something and want to end on a good note."
American Legion A Elite Tournament
Fairview 4, Windsor 3
At Fairview HS
Fairview 010 000 000 03 — 4 8 2
Windsor 000 100 000 02 — 3 9 1
W — Carpenter.
Fairview hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Carrigan 6-0-0-1, J. Jones 1-0-0-0, Mossa 3-0-0-1, B. Jones 4-0-1-0, Carpenter 4-1-3-0, Erickson 4-1-1-0, Willemsen 4-0-2-1, Haensly 5-1-1-0, McGill 4-1-0-0, McMinn 5-0-0-1. Totals 40-4-8-4. 2B —Carpenter.
Fairview pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mossa 4-4-1-1-0-2, Carpenter 7-5-2-2-6-10.