LONGMONT — The stage is set for a big baseball series between the Silver Creek Raptors and the Mountain View Mountain Lions, and it seems all the major actors are going to be in play, as well.
With Silver Creek's 7-4 home win over Greeley Central on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon, the Northern League baseball title is officially going to come down to some of the state's best Class 4A pitchers battling wits on Thursday and Saturday.
The SCHS dynamic duo of Austin Wood and Cole Winn will get the chance to out-perform Mountain View's brothers on the bump, Holden and Locke Bernhardt. It's also a 1-vs.-2 matchup in the RPI ratings that will likely determine the top overall seed in the playoffs.
"If you knew at the beginning of the year that the title would come down to winning two games, you'd take it every single time," said junior Dylan Ordway, who shut down the Wildcats to earn a save Tuesday. "With two great teams going at it, it's going to be a blast."
"This series is big and it's a good team but we know we can beat them," added junior George Ramirez. "We just have to go out there and play to the best of our abilities."
It certainly hasn't been easy for the Raptors (14-3 overall, 9-3 Northern) to get into this position, and Greeley Central (6-11, 1-11) did give them all they could handle in the second game of their series.
With a steady diet of two-out hits throughout the game, however, Silver Creek managed to build a significant lead and let Ordway settle in for the final three innings after Nick Gambirasi started.
Ramirez can attest well to the Raptors keeping innings going, as all three of his base hits came with two outs on the board off Isaac Vargas. In the second inning, he dropped an opposite-field single to score Nick Hartman and Cole Winn and make it 5-1. After another single in the fourth, he came back in the seventh frame to plate the final run with a deep infield single that scored Nick Metcalf all the way from second base.
Max Browne also scored in the third inning on a passed ball after he got aboard via a base hit — again when the Wildcats needed just one out to escape unharmed.
"It was nice to see that (production), and against a really good arm, too," Silver Creek coach Mike Apodaca said. "(Vargas) is right at the top of the league in strikeouts and has that big hook, so for our kids to stay patient and let things happen was good to see."
The Wildcats battled from 6-1 down to make it 6-4 in the fourth, but Ordway allowed just three hits in his three innings of work and kept inherited runner Robert Heiny from scoring in the fourth inning with a sharp double play ball.
He also got a big strikeout of Vargas with two outs and two runners on in the sixth.
"That double play was huge for me," Ordway said. "The defense did the hard work for me, really."
The Raptors have already punched their ticket to the postseason, but Thursday's 4 p.m. game at Mountain View (10-2 league) should wind up being a dandy.
Silver Creek 7, Greeley Central 4
At Silver Creek HS
Greeley Central 010 210 0 — 4 11 2
Silver Creek 231 001 x — 7 9 1
W — Nick Gambirasi. L — Isaac Vargas. Sv — Dylan Ordway.
Greeley Central hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Zjohndre Trujillo 3-0-1-0, Xavier Bonham 2-0-0-0, Jordan Cervantes 2-0-0-0, Isaac Vargas 4-1-2-0, Erik Meza 0-0-0-0, Robert Heiny 4-0-1-1, Ivan Loma 3-2-1-0, Dakota Beckwith 3-1-3-0, Hayden Smith 0-0-0-0, Brian Yackey 3-0-1-1, Cesar Loma 2-0-0-2, Chris Martin 3-0-2-0. Totals 29-4-11-4. 2B —Heiny, Beckwith. SB —Trujillo.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Cole Winn 3-2-1-0, George Ramirez 4-1-3-3, Adam Wager 4-0-1-0, Austin Wood 4-0-1-2, Cason Winn 3-0-0-0, Max Browne 3-1-2-0, Dylan Kramer 3-0-1-0, Sam Etling 2-1-0-0, Nick Hartman 1-1-0-0, Nick Metcalf 1-1-0-0. Totals 28-7-9-5. SB —Ramirez 2, Wager, Etling, Hartman.
Greeley Central pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Vargas 7-9-7-5-3-3.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gambirasi 4-8-4-4-3-2, Ordway 3-3-0-0-0-1.