After three innings, the brain trust of the Boulder NIT was up in the Scott Carpenter press box preparing to make their presentation to the visiting first-timers from Idaho Falls.
And who could blame them. The Bandits had stormed through the tournament — including a victory over Boulder in the quarterfinals on Friday — and were up 7-2 on the local Colorado Aces in the title game.
But baseball is a weird game and Uncle Mo(mentum) can take over a game. The Aces on the strength of an eight run fourth inning surged past the tournament debutantes and held on for a 12-9 victory and the tournament title.
"We just play hard, hustle at all times and take advantage of all our opportunities," Aces coach Bret Williamson said. We kept the pressure on, and we treated it like it was 0-0 the whole time. We kept the pressure on their defense and made them make plays."
The tournament MVP from the Aces was Legacy senior-to-be John Coogan, who in the three games on Saturday and Sunday — including the semifinal win over Billings, Mont., on Sunday morning — hit .600 with five RBIs, five runs scored, five stolen bases and was walked four times.
The Aces leadoff man was 1 for 4 in the title game and played a sparkling center field.
"I think it goes to show that even though that team is man-to-man more talented than us," Coogan said, "That hardwork beats talent every time."
The fourth inning started pretty harmlessly for the Aces. A leadoff single by Ryan Kelly was quickly erased by Bandits pitcher Thomas Alexander on a comebacker by Corey Grace.
With Grace on first, Alexander became rattled when his pickoff attempt was wild and sent the runner to second. Stone Holtzmann followed with an RBI single and Jake Coogan with and RBI double.
The floodgates were open.
The Aces would go on to score six more runs — one on a double steal — including a big two run triple from Kelly that plated Alex Bumpas and recent Monarch grad Zach Berohn.
"If we are able to control that inning down to half of that we are still in this game," said Idaho Fall coach Joldy Watts, whose team hopped on the bus for the nine-hour bus trip home and will play another game in Idaho today at 4 p.m. "They just kept putting it on us and we battled to the end, but eight run inning will come back to bite you."
The Aces caught a break in the bottom of the fifth. After the Bandits had scored to make it 10-8 on an RBI double by Hunter Leavitt in the fourth, they were threatening for more. A leadoff walk by Bailey Whitehead was quickly erased on a great play by Kelly at third base. He threw to first to get Conner Witbeck, who was sacrificing the runner to second, but Whitehead got greedy rounding second, and first baseman Corey Grace threw behind him and nailed him for a double play.
It was that much bigger considering the next hitter, Dalton Virgil belted a home run off the Scott Carpenter scoreboard.
Berohn added some insurance in the top of the sixth with solo home run — with a wood bat no less — over the left field fence.
"The boys played hard the whole weekend and that's about all I ask of them," said Williamson, whose team went 7-0 in the tournament. "These kids played baseball the right way."
Bumpas and Berohn each had three hits in the 17 hit attack for the Aces.
Colorado Aces 12, Idaho Falls 9
At Scott Carpenter Park
Colorado Aces 101 801 1 — 12 17 3
Idaho Falls 430 110 0 — 9 9 2
W — Casey Thompson. L — Thomas Alexander.
Colorado Aces hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — John Coogan 4-1-1-0, Alex Bumpas 4-3-3-2, Rylee Humrighouse 5-0-2-1, Zach Berohn 5-2-3-3, Ryan Kelly 5-1-2-2, Pat Kauffmann 1-1-1-0, Corey Grace 3-1-1-1, Stone Holtzmann 4-1-2-1, Jake Coogan 4-1-2-1, Casey Thompson 2-0-0-0, Luke McClanahan 0-1-0-0. Totals 37-12-17-11. 2B — Jake Coogan, Bumpas, Berohn. 3B — Kelly. HR — Berohn (solo in the 6th). SB — Bumpas, Jake Coogan.
Idaho Falls hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Dalton Virgil 5-1-1-1, Bridger Taylor 4-2-1-0, Jace Jones 3-1-1-0, Brandon Bialas 4-2-2-1, Andrew Gregersen 0-0-0-0, Thomas Alexander 3-1-0-0, Jake Hawkes 0-1-0-0, Hunter Leavitt 3-1-2-3, Bryson Tibbitts 3-0-2-3, Bailey Whitehead 3-0-0-0, Conner Witbeck 2-0-0-0. Totals 30-9-9-8. 2B — Leavitt. HR — Virgil (solo in the 5th). SB — Whitehead, Tibbitts, Jones.
Colorado Aces pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Berohn 1-3-4-2-2-1, Thompson 6-6-5-2-2-5.
Idaho Falls pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Alexander 6.1-16-12-10-3-1, Tibbitts .2-1-0-0-0-0.