LAKEWOOD - The Erie Tigers were supposed to be done after beating Longmont in a three-hour survival test.
Instead, they are headed to the Class 4A final four for the first time in school history after a memorable day of gutsy baseball
Clint Allen scored from third on Luke Conilogue's fly out to center in the bottom of the 12th and the resilient Tigers beat Mountain View 6-5 on Saturday to extend their season one more week.
"First time in the final four in 4A," coach Harold Simmons said. "It's a big deal."
It's an unexpected thrill after a slugfest against Longmont in a game in which the Tigers didn't beat the Trojans as much as outlast them. Erie's 20-16 victory included 30 hits, eight errors and eight pitchers between the teams. It came down to a five-run fifth inning that pushed Erie past Longmont, which ran out of gas a day after losing in 10 innings to Pueblo West.
"Maybe the game (Friday) took something out of us because we showed up kind of flat," Trojans coach Tom Fobes said. "We just didn't have it today."
No one thought Erie would have it, either, after the first game. Mountain View watched the Tigers expend plenty of energy in getting to the second game, and they seemed ripe for a rout.
But Erie (16-8) found its defense after the first three innings and rode the arm of senior Josh Crites, who pitched 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball before being taken out in the 11th inning because he reached the pitch count.
"I was out of gas but I was willing to go more," Crites said. "My last inning throwing I was pretty tired."
When he was in there, he was brilliant. Shaking off an illness that bothered him leading up to the tournament, he scattered 10 hits but didn't walk a batter. He battled Lions pitchers Ivan Thomas and Dylan Norsen and survived a couple of jams.
The biggest one was in the 10th when Mountain View had runners on second and third and no outs. He got Mike Felton to foul out to Allen at catcher before Easton Madrid lined out to Ruben Portillo at shortstop.
Reid Nichols, who hit a two-run homer off starter Victor Villa in the second inning, looked at strike three to end the inning.
"We knew we had to grind it out," Crites said.
When Crites reached his pitch count in the 11th, Allen shed his catching gear and took the mound. His first move was to appeal to first that Thomas, who had hit a double off Crites, missed first on his way to second. He was called out, and after Norsen singled, new catcher Joe Millner threw him out trying to steal.
"We made some plays when we had to and were fortunate to get out of it," Simmons said.
Allen, who hadn't pitched all season before Saturday, got through the 12th and then reached on an error leading off the bottom of the inning.
He stole second and moved to third when Felton's throw went into the outfield. Conilogue followed with a fly ball deep enough to score Allen, resulting in a dogpile near home plate.
It was a celebration of a daylong adventure. Six hours and 19 innings of baseball, beginning with the marathon win over Longmont (15-8).
"Talk about a real gutsy performance," Simmons said. "Villa started the first game, didn't have his stuff, we bring him back to start the second game and he battled. Crites, he had thrown in the first game, gave us his best stuff. Allen caught 17 innings and then pitches two innings."
The Trojans' season ended on a sour note despite scoring a season high in runs.
"You score 10 runs you think you'd still be playing," senior Kavan Andrew said. "Maybe even less than that. It's a tough loss."
Erie 6, Mountain View 5, 12 innings
At All-Star Park
Mountain View 113 000 000 000 — 5 16 3
Erie 230 000 000 001 — 6 9 2
W — Clint Allen. L — Dylan Norsen.
Mountain View hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — T. Felton 6-1-1-0, Thomas 5-1-2-0, Norsen 5-1-5-0, Whitehurst 4-0-1-2, H. Bernhardt 6-0-3-1, L. Bernhardt 5-0-1-0, M. Felton 6-1-0-0, Madrid 6-0-1-0, Nichols 5-1-2-2 . Totals 48-5-16-5. 2B —H. Bernhardt, Nichols. HR —Nichols (one on in 2nd).
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Crites 2-2-2-1, Elliston 3-0-0-0, Allen 5-2-1-1, Gavit 6-0-0-0, Conilogue 4-0-0-2, Sorenson 5-0-1-0, Villa 4-1-2-0, Nelson 4-1-3-1, Millner 0-0-0-0, Portillo 4-0-0-0. Totals 37-6-9-5. SB —Allen.
Mountain View pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Thomas 6-5-5-4-5-3; Norsen 5 2/3-4-1-0-2-2.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Villa 2-4-5-3-2-2, Crites 8 1/3-10-0-0-0-4; Allen 1 2/3-2-0-0-0-1.
Erie 20, Longmont 16
Longmont 360 034 0 — 16 12 4
Erie (10)03 115 x — 20 18 4
W — Josh Crites. L — Kavan Andrew.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Rothe 4-2-1-1, Voydat 4-3-1-2, M. Peterson 3-0-3-0, A. Thompson 0-2-0-0, Andrew 4-2-2-24, Hassler 3-1-1-2, Moroyoqui 5-1-1-2, Befus 5-1-2-2, Zamudio 3-2-1-0, Rulon 3-0-0-0, Renck 0-2-0-0. Totals 34-16-12-13. 2B —Rothe, M. Peterson. 3B —Andrew.
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Crites 2-4-2-3, Elliston 3-4-1-1, Allen 3-1-3-3, Bartholomew 0-2-0-0, Gavit 4-1-3-4, Conilogue 4-1-1-1, Villa 4-2-1-1, Nelson 4-3-4-2, Portillo 3-1-1-0. Totals 32-20-18-15. 2B — Crites, Allen, Sorenson, Nelson. HR —Allen (one on in 3rd).
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hassler 0-3-5-5-1-0, Cardenes 2/3-4-5-0-0-0, Rulon 1 2/3-1-1-1-0-1, Merlo 1 2/3 4-3-3-1-1, Andrew 1 2/3-6-6-4-4-0, Befus 1/3-0-0-0-1-0.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Villa 1 2/3-6-9-4-1-1, Lutgens 3-4-2-0-2-1, Sacket 2/3-1-0-0-3-1, Elliston 0-1-2-2-0-0, Crites 1 2/3-0-0-0-0-1.