DENVER — Have yourself a day Mitch Morales.
The Broomfield sophomore turned in one of his best games of the season on Monday afternoon at Metro State with his Eagles backs up against the proverbial wall.
He pitched brilliant baseball into the sixth inning, delivered several clutch hits and, to top it all off, made the diving stop in right field to preserve a 5-2 victory over Rock Canyon and send Broomfield, in just its third season in Class 5A, into the final weekend of the season.
"I felt really confident, in fact that was probably one of the most confident outings I've had all season," said Morales, who improved his record on the mound to 2-3. "I knew coming in that this was going to be the biggest game of the year for us, so I was just trying to keep calm out there and win one for the team."
Broomfield (18-6) will be at All-City Stadium at noon on Friday to play the winner of Rocky Mountain and Mountain Vista. That game was suspended in the top of the seventh inning with the Lobos leading 4-3 because of weather.
Morales gave up a run in the top of the second to the Jaguars, who staved off elimination in the first game by rallying to beat Legacy 7-4, and settled in from there against a team that didn't record an extra base hit in two games.
It was just a matter of time before the Eagles bats got to Andrew Rocke, who came in the fifth inning against Legacy to shut the door on the Lightning.
With Matt Turner and Mason Speirs each having drawn one-out walks from Rocke, it set the stage for Morales — who had doubled to deep left off Rocke in the second.
The Jags defense, thinking he was a dead-pull hitter, shifted him around to left, including the right fielder and Morales made them pay.
"They were playing me to slap the ball and I saw that right field was wide open and he threw me a pitch inside and I tried to hook it down the right field line to see what would happen," said Morales, who ended up on third with a stand-up triple. "It gave us the lead and we went on from there."
Broomfield would add two more run in the inning. A beautiful suicide squeeze bunt from Ben Peterson that turned into a single plated Morales and Josh Cox would later drive in Peterson.
"We've got a great core," said Broomfield coach Garrin Estes, whose team is riding high heading to Friday. "Everything starts over and we are in a good position right now, we are on a high right now and ready to play anybody.
"These guys understand that they can play with anybody."
The Jaguars made things interesting in their final at bat. They loaded the bases against reliever Ben Peterson and forced Estes to go to Jerin Deinhart to get the final out of the game.
Deinhart faced clean-up hitter Matt Givin, who ripped a trailing liner to the right-centerfield gap that Morales was able to track down and make a diving catch to end the game.
"I'll take this team and we've been in some tough situations with runner in scoring position and they've held their heads," Estes said. "Somehow we've gotten the outs, the runs and made the pitches we've needed."
Legacy, playing in its first Class 5A state tournament Elite 8, had things going their way against Rock Canyon in the first game.
The Lightning were cruising, up 4-2, but a costly four run bottom of the fifth inning that saw the Jags score four unearned runs on two Legacy errors did them in.
"All these teams here are good teams and they all play well in all three phases of the game and that's what wins baseball games," Legacy coach Ty Giordano said. "We didn't play well enough to put ourselves in position to play next weekend."
It was a tough pill to swallow for the Lightning, who despite not advancing as far as they wanted, took the first step in establishing their program amongst the states best.
"It's the goal every year to get here and this team has been very special because they were the first to do it," said Giordano, who got two-hit games from Colby Deaville and D.J. Daugherty in the loss. "They did set the tone for future teams."
ROCK CANYON 7, LEGACY 4
At Metro State
Legacy (16-7)011 200 0 — 4 8 4
Rock Canyon (16-7)002 041 x — 7 10 1
W — Andrew Rocke (7-0). L — Ryan Overboe (3-2).
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — John Coogan 3-1-1-1, Colby Deaville 4-0-2-1, Ross Smith 3-0-1-0, DJ Daugherty 4-1-2-0, Ty McAninch 2-0-0-1, Joseph Jaramillo 0-0-0-0, Grant Hall 0-0-0-0, Bradon O'Connor 3-1-0-0, Ryan Overboe 2-0-1-0, Tyler Labuda 0-1-0-0, Jacob Coogan 1-0-0-0, Caden Sehr 0-0-0-0, Joshua Kelnhofer 3-0-1-1. Totals 25-4-8-4. 2B — Deaville. 3B — Daugherty, John Coogan. SB —Deaville.
Rock Canyon hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Colton Hill 4-1-3-0, Justin Petterle 0-0-0-0, Cayden Zimmerman 2-2-1-1, Logan O'Neill 4-1-0-1, Matt Givin 4-1-2-1, Nick Merone 2-0-0-0, Wyatt Wendell 2-0-1-0, Michael Keen 3-0-2-2, Mitch Mullen 1-0-0-0, Jacob Barnard 1-0-0-0, Andrew Rocke 1-0-0-0, Jesse Hernandez 2-2-1-0. Totals 26-7-10-5. SB — Hernandez 2, Zimmerman 2, Hill 2.
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Overboe 4.1-8-6-2-1-6, McAninch 1-1-1-0-2-1, Kelnhofer .2-1-0-0-1-0.
Rock Canyon pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Wendell 2-2-1-0-3-0, Mullen 1-1-1-1-0-0, Barnard 1-3-2-2-0-1, Rocke 3-2-0-0-0-4.
BROOMFIELD 5, ROCK CANYON 2
At Metro State
Rock Canyon (16-8)010 001 0 — 2 8 0
Broomfield (18-6)000 410 x — 5 8 1
W — Mitch Morales (2-3). L — Andrew Rocke (7-1).
Rock Canyon hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Colton Hill 3-0-0-0, Cayden Zimmerman 4-1-2-0, Loan O'Neill 3-0-1-0, Justin Petterle 0-0-0-0, Matt Givin 4-0-1-0, Nick Merone 1-1-0-0, Wyatt Wendell 3-0-2-1, Michael Keen 2-0-1-1, Garrison Niemann 3-0-1-0, Andrew Rocke 0-0-0-0, Marco Guillen 0-0-0-0, Jesse Hernandez 1-0-0-0, Jacob Barnard 1-0-0-0. Totals 25-2-8-2.
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Josh Cox 4-0-1-1, Hayden Van de Pol 4-0-0-0, Isaiah Overman 0-0-0-0, Tanner Garner 3-1-2-0, Matt Turner 2-1-0-0, Mason Speirs 2-0-1-0, Jerin Deinhart 0-1-0-0, Mitch Morales 3-0-3-3, Tyler Conover 0-1-0-0, Ben Peterson 3-1-1-1, James Notary 2-0-0-0, Sean McCulley 2-0-0-0, Blake Rohm 0-0-0-0. Totals 25-5-8-5. 2B — Morales, Garner. 3B — Morales. SB — Cox, Peterson.
Rock Canyon pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Rocke 3.1-3-3-3-2-2, Guillen 1.2-5-2-2-1-1, Zimmerman 1-0-0-0-0-0.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Morales 5+-5-2-2-1-4, Peterson 1.2-3-0-0-2-0, Deinhart .1-0-0-0-0-0.