FORT MORGAN - It did not come easy, but the Longmont Trojans are going to the state tournament.
Senior Mason Peterson's walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Longmont to a 4-3 victory in the Class 4A district 6 title game and secured the Trojans a spot in next week's eight-team double-elimination state tournament.
The team waited patiently at Legion Field on Saturday as Fort Morgan and Lewis-Palmer went nine innings in the first game of the day. As the contest finally ended - Lewis-Palmer winning 4-2 - the Trojans took to the field to face Palmer Ridge.
Head coach Tom Fobes turned to junior Dagin Renck to get the start against Palmer Ridge. He would allow a run in the third inning, the only hiccup for him on a day where he was on and pounded the strike zone.
"That's what we expected, because he has been our guy all year," Fobes said.
Renck's run support came late in the game. Senior Kavan Andrew tied the game in the bottom fifth with a two-out RBI single. Longmont took its first lead of the game in the sixth inning with another two-out hit, this time a double from senior Ryan Rulon.
Palmer Ridge would make things interesting in the seventh inning as they got the leadoff man on with a single and over to third on two wild pitches. Renck would deliver the pitchers he needed to in the bottom of the zone, getting a strikeout and two groundouts to prevent the runner from coming home.
In game two, Longmont's offense got off to a faster start. Andrew hit an RBI single in the first inning to give the Trojans the early 1-0 lead. Two more runs came home in the third inning as senior Andrew Voydat and sophomore Austin Hassler executed a double steal on the corners to score the first run and an error on a ground ball hit to first base by senior Miguel Moroyoqui drove in another.
Hassler got the start for Longmont in game two and had little trouble early, allowing no hits in the first three innings. Lewis-Palmer got their bats going late with an RBI double in the fourth inning and two runs scoring in the sixth inning on a fielder's choice and double to tie the game.
With two runners in scoring position and one out in the top sixth, the Trojans turned to senior Reece Cardenas. He got a strikeout and flyout to right field to get out of the inning.
More trouble came in the seventh with runners on second and first with two outs. Lewis-Palmer hit a ball to right field, but a nice relay to home plate got there in time for the Trojans to tag out the go-ahead runner and head into the bottom seventh tied at three.
"That play was huge," Fobes said. "Our guys came in fired up with the chance to win it."
Longmont quickly put the pressure on in the bottom frame by getting the first three batters on base. With one out, Peterson worked his way to a 3-2 count a fouled a couple pitches off before drilling a ball past the first baseman to the outfield for the win.
"(Mason) is a tough out and doesn't strike out for us," Fobes said. "He fouled off some really good pitches, and then he got a good one to put in play and snuck it down the line there."
With the two wins, Longmont moves on to the 4A state tournament next week.