DENVER -- The scene was breathtaking. The game was nearly heartbreaking.

Francis Lanzano made sure it wasn't.

The Boulder third baseman saved the day for his squad Saturday at Coors Field with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning that secured a 2-1 victory against Smoky Hill.

It allowed the Panthers (6-4) to forget that they were one strike away from winning in regulation before surrendering the tying run.

"It was indescribable," Lanzano said. "I hit a really hard line drive right to the shortstop two at-bats before, and this one was kind of a blooper. Baseball kind of works itself out."

There was no reason to think Boulder would need extra innings entering the seventh. Pitchers Terin Marcotte, Christian Gregorich and Ruben Garcia had combined to one-hit the Buffaloes (6-3) through six, and Garcia quickly got two outs in the seventh.

Smoky Hill's Hank Hyde popped a ball up down the right field line that looked to be the final out, but it dropped harmlessly in foul ground between three Boulder fielders. Hyde then doubled to center, but Garcia regained his bearings and had Jeff Gillis in a 1-2 hole.

The Buffaloes outfielder, though, singled through the hole between shortstop and third to score Hyde and tie it up.


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"When I was walking to the dugout, I was thinking that the (foul popup) would have been the game, but it was a little tough luck," Garcia said. "In some ways I wish it would have ended on that, but I like the walk-off at Coors. That doesn't happen for many high school teams."

Garcia came back to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth and earned the win with a glitzy pitching line: four innings, one run, one walk, seven strikeouts.

Nate Marcotte started Boulder's winning rally with a single to lead off the eighth against hard-throwing reliever Trey Reineke. Marcotte was forced out after an attempted sacrifice by Connor Stowe, but Stowe atoned by stealing second.

After Andrew McCarthy struck out, Lanzano lifted a soft line drive to left and Stowe beat the throw home.

"Francis has been great for us all spring," Boulder coach Steve Disbrow said. "It's a testament to him. He's taken some huge strides in the past year and put himself in a position to be that type of player for us."

The junior played a part in both Panthers runs. He singled in the first and scored on a double by Levi Chandler. Lanzano said it wasn't difficult for his squad to remain positive, even with the disappointment of the seventh inning.

"It's easy to do that at Coors Field," he said. "There's so much energy and the vibe is unbelievable."

Boulder players were buzzing that the win, coupled with the Panthers' 6-4 victory Friday against Fort Collins, will propel the squad going forward.

High school games at Coors Field typically are restricted to two hours, but the initial seven flew by in 1 hour, 20 minutes, so the teams had ample time for extra innings. Eight proved enough for the Panthers.

"We paid for seven and got to play eight," Disbrow said with a laugh. "These guys are gritty. We're not afraid to face some adversity. Much to our guys' credit, we didn't hang our heads and think what could have been. We came out and managed to scrap one out."

Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21

 

Boulder 2, Smoky Hill 1

At Coors Field

Smoky Hill (6-3) 000 000 10 -- 1 3 1

Boulder (6-4) 100 000 01 -- 2 8 1

W -- Garcia (2-0). L -- Reineke (1-1)

Smoky Hill hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- Heath 4-0-1-0, Stupansky 3-0-0-0, Reineke 3-0-0-0, Scott 2-0-0-0, Jakopec 1-0-0-0, Hyde 3-1-1-0, Gillis 3-0-1-1, Klotz 1-0-0-0, Kishi 1-0-0-0, Garcia 1-0-0-0, Huschka 1-0-0-0, Martinez 1-0-0-0, Moses 1-0-0-0, Hill 2-0-0-0. Totals 27-1-3-1. 2B -- Hyde. SB -- Hill.

Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) -- McCarthy 4-0-0-0, Lanzano 3-1-2-1, Chandler 3-0-2-1, Bukowski 3-0-0-0, Dinkel 2-0-0-0, Feigal 2-0-0-0, Garcia 3-0-1-0, Guegan 2-0-1-0, N. Marcotte 3-0-1-0, Stowe 2-1-0-0, Langston 1-0-0-0, Flores 1-0-1-0. Totals 29-2-8-2. 2B -- Chandler, Guegan. SB -- Stowe.

Smoky Hill pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Klotz 2-3-1-1-1-1, McDermott 2-1-0-0-0-0, Vasina 1-1-0-0-0-0, Reineke 2.2-3-1-1-0-3.

Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- T. Marcotte 2-0-0-0-0-1, Gregorich 2-1-0-0-0-0, Garcia 4-2-1-1-1-7.