DENVER — This year's preseason had a different feel for the Broomfield baseball team, though none of the Eagles could have predicted what a wild ride the next three or so months would turn out to be.
The Eagles certainly couldn't have said with any confidence that they would be playing on the final day of the season.
But here they are.
Playing for their postseason lives in the double-elimination Class 5A state tournament on Friday at All-City Field, the No. 7-seed Eagles put together a five-run ninth inning to win a riveting semifinal 7-2 against No. 4 Rocky Mountain. Now when the final day of the season begins on Saturday, the Eagles will take the field as one of three remaining teams with a shot at the state championship.
"We knew from the very first day that we had something special," Eagles senior James Notary said. "I don't know if we knew it was this special, but we knew it was special. This is a dream come true, honestly. It's exciting and I think we've got a better shot than anybody, so we'll see if we can end the season with a bang."
Facing one of the state's best lineups, Notary was spectacular. The MLB Draft prospect and TCU commit allowed just two earned runs in seven-plus innings while striking out 11 batters. Teammate Ben Peterson was also excellent, allowing one hit while pitching two scoreless innings in relief and collecting the win.
While the lineup produced 11 hits through the first seven innings, the Eagles (19-6) struggled to come up with the timely hits they needed to bring runners home apart from scratching out single runs in the second and fifth innings. The Lobos tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and the game went to extra innings.
With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Eagles first baseman Matt Turner hit an infield single to start a rally that led to the Eagles scoring five runs on four hits.
Mason Speirs followed Turner with a single and Mitch Morales scored Turner with an RBI double to right field that put the Eagles up 3-2. Peterson walked to load the bases and Notary walked to bring in another run. Tyler Conover delivered the dagger with a bases-clearing double that gave the Eagles a five-run lead.
"That was probably the best game I've ever been a part of," Notary said. "I had good feel out there today, our defense was lights-out and it was a nail-biter all the way down. Then Ty Conover, our guy, comes up with a bases-loaded double and gets us home."
As conference rivals in the Front Range League, the two teams were plenty familiar with one another after the Lobos walked-off the Eagles with a four-run bottom of the seventh during the regular season. Knowing the danger the Lobos posed in the rematch, Turner, Speirs, Morales, Peterson, Josh Cox, Van De Pol all has multi-hit games.
"Rocky is Rocky," Eagles head coach Garren Estes said. "They're an outstanding program and we knew they would find a way to come back, and they did. They beat us in the last inning of our league game, so we knew they were going to hang. James and Ben pitched great, we had some nice plays in the outfield, and we just kept preaching, 'Keep hitting the ball and eventually they're going to fall.'
"It was just a matter of time and when we got that big inning, it was one of those relievers where it felt great, like we were being rewarded for our patience and just staying in our game. We didn't try to do too much and eventually good things happened. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into tomorrow and we're just happy to be playing another day."
Heading back to All-City at 10 a.m. on Saturday, the Eagles will play top-seeded Cherry Creek (18-6). Morales will start the game on the mound. The winner of Saturday morning's game will face the Lobos for the championship at 12:30 p.m.
Broomfield 7, Rocky Mountain 2
At All-City Field
Broomfield 010 010 005 — 7 16 0
Rocky Mountain 000 020 000 — 2 6 0
W — Peterson. L — Campbell.
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Cox 6-1-2-0, Vandepol 4-0-3-0, Garner 5-0-1-0, Turner 5-1-2-1, Speirs 3-1-2-0, Deinhardt 0-1-0-0, Morales 4-1-2-2, Peterson 4-1-2-0, Notary 3-1-0-1, Overman 2-0-0-0, Macosko 0-0-0-0, McCulley 1-0-0-0, Conover 1-0-1-3, Rohm 0-0-0-0. Totals 38-7-16-7. 2B — Garner, Turner, Speirs, Morales, Conover.
Rocky Mountain hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Hyland 4-1-1-0, Hammer 4-0-1-1, Sorenson 4-0-0-0, Uhrich 3-0-1-0, Gendreau 4-0-1-0, Nelson 4-0-1-0, Wagner 4-0-0-0, Medrano 2-0-0-0, Mata-Lloyd 2-1-1-0, Morris 0-0-0-0, Sanchez 0-0-0-0, Maciel 1-0-0-0, Campbell 0-0-0-0, Young 0-0-0-0. Totals 32-2-6-1. SB — Hyland, Urich, Nelson, Medrano.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Notary 7-5-2-2-2-11, Peterson 2-1-0-0-1-2.
Rocky Mountain pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanchez 5-9-2-2-2-6, Maciel 0-1-0-0-0-0, Campbell 3.2-6-5-5-4-1, Young 0.1-0-0-0-0-0.