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Late-entering snow in Colorado may be wreaking havoc on the state baseball tournaments from the perspective of CHSAA administrators and personnel, but it might not be as much of a headache for coaches and players as one might initially think.

Whether it was Saturday (the start for the Class 2A 16-team, single-elimination tournament) or Tuesday (when Class 3A's double-elimination format is slated to begin) — there is pretty much no question in which game a coach will decide to go with their No. 1 starting pitcher.

Universally, you start with your ace in Game 1 — and you expect your offense to hit, no matter who is up on the bump.

"I would think that's the way most coaches go about it, and really that's what we plan on doing because that first one is big," said Broomfield head coach Garren Estes, whose Eagles will start their quest in 5A against Legend on Sunday. "I think it sets the tone for the whole tournament."

There is a little more flexibility in double-elimination tournaments, such as those that are employed by the 3A, 4A and 5A classifications. Getting to the second weekend requires two wins the first weekend, so each team is going to need to rely on multiple pitchers no matter what.

But conventional wisdom says going against the grain and starting the tournament with the second pitcher on your staff is essentially the same as giving the valet a set of keys to a Tesla while you go self-park your Toyota.


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Estes, for one, is in envious situation for many a coach. He has a couple of overly reliable arms in seniors Blake Rohm and James Notary — two pitchers bound for Division I programs next year.

Notary in particular has pitched at what can be considered an elite level — he's 6-0 with a 1.25 earned-run average, having allowed just 40 baserunners in 44.2 innings pitched.

One can expect him to start against Legend at Metro State's Regency Athletic Complex (10 a.m.).

On the other side, it's hard to say Legend has a true ace. Kyle Cardona's 33 innings lead the team but three others right behind him — Jack Baird, Brody McCord and Tommy Drury — have all pitched between 27 and 33 frames. McCord and Baird sport sub-2.00 ERA's and none of the four are big strikeout pitchers.

"We'll be going with James that first game, and you hope to get off to a good start and go from there," Estes said. "Legend has a few guys that are all pretty close to each other, so you know they have pitchers.

"Pitching is huge, but you know you still have to score runs and that's where we feel fortunate in that we've been able to support our pitchers with some good, sound offense and defense."

The 5A field also includes Legacy, which will face Cherry Creek on Sunday at All-City Field (10 a.m.). The Lightning have had a workhorse in Josh Chamberlain (6-2, 2.81 ERA) — and he'll likely be called into service against the Bruins.

Silver Creek coach Mike Apodaca is also of the mindset that the 4A Raptors are perhaps more hopeful of their offensive production than they are concerned about who is pitching. Silver Creek will enter Monday's game against Thomas Jefferson with all arms healthy — including that of established ace Cole Winn (9-0, 0.73 ERA).

"Right now, all of our arms are ready and the reality for us is we have to support whichever pitcher we throw out there," Apodaca said. "Cole is special and he gives you a chance to win any time you put him out there, but at the same time you get to use a kid like that once a weekend. You just really hope you support them at the plate, and hope they do a good job pitching. Ultimately, I think one of our strengths is pitching with Cole being on the top side of that."

With 4A slated to go Monday and Tuesday with the possibility of still having a Friday/Saturday turnaround for the second weekend, Apodaca said that teams should probably be a little more mindful of pitch counts — given that a Tuesday pitcher would likely not be able to go again until Saturday given the parameters of the pitch count rule and rest-day requirements.

That, for now, will also be a concern in 3A and with Peak to Peak. The Pumas play La Junta at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday (at Greeley's Butch Butler Field) and if they make it to the final four may have to play again Friday and Saturday. The CHSAA has not yet made any decisions about moving the second weekend for 3A to allow for proper rest for top pitchers.

Peak to Peak coach Derek Urban has lauded his pitching staff all year, and now that it's crunch time the Pumas do look to be in good shape with both Tommy Shriver and Brayden Weyer having ace-quality stuff right now.

While the Pumas anxiously await their turn to play, everything gets going for the local teams with 2A Lyons facing off with Haxtun Saturday at Hobbs Field (Pueblo's Runyon Sports Complex, 12:30 p.m.).

Baseball: State tournament

Class 5A double-elimination

Sunday

All-City Stadium

(8) Legacy vs. (1) Cherry Creek, 10 a.m.

(5) Rock Canyon vs. (4) Rocky Mountain, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Metro State

(7) Broomfield vs. (2) Legend, 10 a.m.

(6) Dakota Ridge vs. (3) Mountain Vista, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Class 4A double-elimination

Monday

All-Star Park

(5) Air Academy vs. (4) Evergreen, 10 a.m.

(8) Golden vs. (1) Thompson Valley, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Machebeuf

(7) Silver Creek vs. (2) Thomas Jefferson, 10 a.m.

(6) Pueblo West vs. (3) Valor Christian, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Class 3A double-elimination

Tuesday

Butch Butler

(8) Colorado Academy vs. (1) Lamar, 10 a.m.

(5) Peak to Peak vs. (4) La Junta, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Niwot

(7) Salida vs. (2) Eaton, 10 a.m.

(6) Valley vs. (3) Faith Christian, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Class 2A

Saturday

Hobbs Field

(1) Paonia 12, (16) Sargent 2

(8) Hotchkiss 4, (9) Dayspring Christian 2

Winners: (1) Paonia 1, (8) Hotchkiss 0

Andenuccio Field

(4) County Line 6, (13) Evangelical Christian 2

(12) Yuma vs. (5) Burlignton 3, (12) Yuma 1

Winners: (4) County Line 6, (5) Burlington 5

Sunday

Andenuccio Field

(14) Front Range Christian vs. (3) Sedgwick County, 10 a.m.

(11) Rocky Ford vs. (6) Holyoke, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Hobbs Field

(15) Limon vs. (2) Peyton, 9 a.m.

(10) Lyons vs. (7) Haxtun, 12:30 p.m.

Winners: 3 p.m.

Adam Dunivan: dunivana@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/AdamDunivan24