CANON CITY — The southern league champs weren't kind to the Northern League on Saturday.
The Canon City Tigers dropped the Centaurus Warriors 9-5 in the District 2 opener at Justin Field, and the Air Academy Kadets handed the Silver Creek Raptors an early exit in the following game with an 8-7 final.
The Kadets, champions of the Pikes Peak League in Colorado Springs, beat the Tigers, Colorado Springs Metro League champions, 10-5 in the district championship to advance to the Class 4A state tournament.
"I told you before the game that it was going to be a heck of a game and it was," Raptors coach Mike Apodaca said about his team's loss against Air Academy. "We all lined up our best and they got the final out. That's the reality of it — that's baseball."
Both teams threw their best pitchers. Co-ace, as Apodaca called him, Austin Wood, started the game and Cole Winn entered in relief for the Raptors (14-6). Kadets DI signee Bailey Hansen threw for Air Academy (16-5).
Silver Creek, atop many of the rankings for most of the season, fell behind Air Academy in the second inning when Hansen homered off Wood. The Kadets added four more in the fourth inning thanks to back-to-back walks to start the inning, a sacrifice bunt followed by a two-RBI double from Mark Singleton. He came around to score on a triple from Brenden Knopp, who then scored on a wild pitch.
The Raptors answered with two runs in the bottom half. Cole Winn reached base on an error by the third baseman and Nick Metcalf drew a walk. Wood sacrificed the runners forward a base and Max Browne brought them home via a two-base error by the Kadets' third baseman.
The Raptors took a 7-5 lead in the fifth inning thanks to three walks, a single by Winn and a home run by Wood.
It didn't last, though, as Air Academy put up three in the sixth inning. Two walks were brought home by Tyler Cauthren's double, and he scored on Josh Dudden's single.
"Our Achilles' heel all year, if I were to say we had one, is our inability to finish innings when we have momentum," Apodaca said. "We had a ton of momentum going into that sixth inning, we get the first two guys out and I think we tried to do too much and we walked the next two. I could count on two hands how many times that has bit us in the butt (this year). Against a good team, you walk two batters and those were the runs that were the difference."
Centaurus battled Canon City in the opener, which was a pleasant sign for head coach Mark Gonzales.
"I'm happy with the grit we showed," he said. "Honestly, we've been begging for that all year to get that competitiveness. We came out and showed it and battled in every inning. I don't think they were ever settled. That's good to see, obviously with our record and we've struggled a little bit on the mound. We battled, competed and stayed with them. We're a couple hits or a couple pitches away."
Air Academy 8, Silver Creek 7
At Canon City
Air Academy 010 403 0 — 8 8 4
Silver Creek 000 250 0 — 7 3 0
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Elting 2-1-0-0, Co. Winn 4-1-1-2, Metcalf 2-2-0-0, Wood 2-1-1-3, Borrego 0-1-0-0, Browne 4-0-0-1, Ramirez 2-0-0-0, Ca. Winn 3-0-0-0, Kramer 3-0-0-0, Gambirasi 2-1-1-0. 2B —Co. Winn, Gambirasi. HR —Wood. SB —Co. Winn.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Wood 5-6-5-5-3-3, Co. Winn 2-2-3-3-3-1.
Canon City 9, Centaurus 5
Centaurus 111 020 0 — 5 6 1
Canon City 111 312 x — 9 13 6
Centaurus hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Larson 4-1-0-0, Losasso 4-0-1-0, Gambon 2-2-1-0, Milano 4-0-1-1, Varga 0-0-0-0, Jessip 2-1-0-0, Erickson 4-0-1-1, Lucero 4-0-1-1, DiSabato 4-1-0-0, Smith 2-0-1-1, MacDonald 1-0-0-0. 2B —Gmbon, Smith, Milano, Losasso. SB —DiSabato.
Canon City hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Hanenberg 4-1-3-2, Manchester 4-1-2-1, Brosh 3-1-1-1, Teigan 4-0-0-0, Porter 3-3-2-0, Koch 2-0-1-1, Nethercot 2-0-1-0, Simms 0-1-0-0, Farnsworth 0-0-0-0, Hildebrand 3-1-2-3, Green 2-1-1-0. 2B — Hildebrand, Green, Porter, hanenberg. 3B —Hildebrand, Porter. HR —Brosh. SB —Manchester 2, Simms.
Centaurus pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jessip 3.2-8-6-5-3-0, MacDonald 1.1-5-3-3-0-0, DiSabato 1-0-0-0-2.
Canon City pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Nethercot 4.1-4-5-3--4-1, Farnsworth 2.2-6-5-3-4-2.