BROOMFIELD - Heading into Saturday's opening round of the Class 5A postseason, the District 2 tournament at Legacy High School was considered by many to be the toughest in the state.
All four teams in the bracket were "state-worthy, " including Brighton, a team that had knocked off overall No. 1 seed Cherry Creek earlier in the month and features Colorado home run king Liam Eddy, who finished the regular season with a state-high 10 round trippers.
But when the dust finally settled in the early hours of a rather warm Colorado evening, it was the host Lightning that had punched it's ticket to state, handling the Bulldogs in a convincing 12-5 victory.
D.J. Daugherty struck the big blow for Legacy, smashing a three-run home run in the fourth inning to break open a 5-5 tie. Daugherty also homered — this time a two-run shot — in the team's opening round win over Mullen
The Lightning would put the game out of reach in the sixth, plating four more runs in the bottom half of the frame.
While Eddy did go 4 for 4 with a two run homer and four RBI, Legacy's pitching trio of Ryan Overboe, Ty McAninch and Joshua Kelnhofer were able to limit the rest of the Brighton lineup to three hits.
In the opener, Legacy outlasted Mullen 3-2 and turned around a one-run setback to the Mustangs in nonleague on March 25.
Behind the strong pitching of Josh Chamberlain, a crack stint in relief by Kelnhofer and a two-run home run by Daugherty, the Lighting avoided multiple threats by Mullen, turned in two double plays and survived three base runners getting picked off between first and second base.
"No doubt it was a battle," Lightning coach Ty Giordano said. "We definitely faced a lot of adversity in that game. Mullen is an excellent baseball team and coach (Vince) Porreco does a great job.
"We had some key situations where our guys didn't buckle under the pressure."
True. Mullen, which ended 10-10, scored a run in the first inning and had the bases loaded with one out. But Legacy first baseman Overboe made a terrific, diving stab of a line drive in foul territory and lunged to tag the bag for a double play.
There was more. Chamberlain survived a leadoff double in the fourth. And Kelnhofer got past hitting the Mustangs' leadoff hitter in the seventh and stranded him on third base. In all, Mullen left seven runners on base.
Offensively, Daugherty's homer to left field followed Mullen's fourth error.
"I honestly went up there thinking base hit, but I put a good swing on it and it went out," he said. "'When I hit it, I thought it was too high, but it had a chance and it just kept going."
The winning run came in the fifth on Kelnhofer's single, courtesy runner Tyler Labuda moving to second on a sacrifice, getting wild-pitched to third and scoring on a passed ball.
"I'm proud of these kids," Giordano said.
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Legacy 12, Brighton 5
Brighton102 200 0 — 5 7 1
Legacy032 304 x — 12 10 1
W — Legacy Aninch. L — Saenz.
Brighton hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — treto 3-2-1-1, Beck 4-0-1-0, Eddy 4-1-4-4, Saenz 4-0-0-0, Szafraniec 3-0-1-0, Pratt 2-0-0-0, Musgrave 1-0-0-0, Stricklett 2-0-0-0, Velasquez 2-1-0-0, Botello 3-1-0-0. Totals 28-5-7-5. HR —Treto, Eddy. SB — Velasquez.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Coogan 3-0-1-1, Deaville 4-1-0-1, Smith 3-2-1-0, Daugherty 3-3-3-3, McAninch 3-1-1-0, Hall 0-1-0-0, O'Connor 3-1-2-2, Overboe 1-1-1-2, Sehr 0-1-0-0, Coogan 2-0-1-1, Labuda 0-0-0-0, Kelnhofer 3-1-0-0, OBrien 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-12-10-10. 2B — Daugherty 2, O'Connor. HR — Daugherty. SB —Coogan.
Brighton pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — LaRue 1-1-2-2-3-1, Gifford 1-3-3-2-3-1, Saenz 2-2-3-3-2-0, Treto 1-1-3-3-2-0, Pratt 1-3-1-1-0-0.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Overboe 3.1-4-5-5-3-1, McAninch 2.1-2-0-0-0-1, Kelnhofer 1.1-1-0-0-0-0.
Legacy 3, Mullen 2
Mullen100 010 0 — 2 6 4
Legacy000 210 x — 3 5 0
W — Legacy Chamberlain. L — J. Salvato.
Mullen hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — M. Salvato 2b 3-0-0-0, J. Salvato p-ss 4-2-2-0, Porreco 3b 4-0-3-1, Barr ss 3-0-0-0, Haen dh 2-0-0-1, Salas c 3-0-1-0, Lobo-Lucio rf 3-0-0-0, Burke 1b 2-0-0-0, Bielat cf 1-0-0-0, Elges lf 0-0-0-0, Parris p 0-0-0-0, Nolte ph 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-2-6-2.
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Jo. Coogan lf 2-0-0-0, Deaville 2b 3-0-1-0, Smith rf 3-1-1-0, Daugherty 3b-2b 2-1-1-2, Overboe 1b 3-0-0-0, O'Connor 2-0-0-0, McAninch dh 2-0-1-0, Ja. Coogan c 2-0-0-0, Kelnhofer ss-p 2-0-1-0, Labuda cr 0-1-0-0, Chamberlain p 0-0-0-0. Totals 21-3-5-2.
2B —Salas, J. Salvato, Porreco. HR —Daugherty, one on in fourth.
Mullen pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Salvato 5-6-3-1-1-7, Parris 1-0-0-0-1-2.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Chamberlain 5-6-2-1-3-2, Keinhofer 2-0-0-0-0-2.