DENVER — The Boulder American Legion B summer team has compiled an impressive 41-3 record, and a number of those wins have come via comeback victories.
Even now that the American Legion B state championship tournament has begun, the Boulder boys clearly have not lost their never-say-die approach.
After both teams received first-round byes, Boulder and Jefferson Academy kicked off their state tournament's against one another on Thursday afternoon, and Boulder won the game with a thrilling 11-10 walk-off victory. Boulder was down twice, including by a five-run margin at one point, and had to rally for three runs to get that win.
"We've had a few of those same type of games, but our team always keeps fighting, and we always feel like we can come back," Boulder left fielder Charlie Esson said. "We were down big in today's game, but we stayed in it and it worked out in the end."
The top seed entering the 10-team, double-elimination tournament, Boulder opened its tournament with an ugly four-error top of the first that helped Jefferson Academy pull ahead 2-0. After taking a brief lead in the fourth, Boulder fell behind again when Jefferson Academy scored six runs in the fifth.
Down by one with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, Esson hit a hard ground ball that could have been a game-ending double play, but with the infield in to set up a potential play at the plate, the ball went through the shortstop's legs and the game-winning runs scored.
"I was trying to hit something deep for a sac fly to at least tie the game," said Esson, who combined with teammate Tommy Wymore to drive in five of their team's runs without a single hit between them. "I hit it hard, but on the ground, and thank God it got through."
Boulder committed seven errors but also stole 11 bases. Head coach Jack Taylor said winning the way his team did on Thursday proved to the Boulder players that they are never out of any game and should give them confidence as they move forward in the tournament.
"We haven't given up all year and it's kind of become our motto," Taylor said. "It's just the old stuff: play to the last pitch, there's always a lot of game left, we just can't give up. We stuck to that again today. We came into this game 20-0 in the league, and we're just glad we're advancing in the winners bracket like we feel we should be."
Boulder will face Eaglecrest on Friday at 2 p.m. Jefferson Academy will play the Aurora Renegades at 9 a.m. to open consolation play.
Boulder 11, Jefferson Academy 10
At Machebeuf H.S.
Jefferson Academy 201 061 0 — 10 11 4
Boulder 011 213 3 — 11 7 7
W — Blankenship. L — Anderson.
Jefferson Academy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Soto-Gutierrez 5-1-4-1, Baldwin 5-1-1-1, G. Anderson 4-2-1-0, Nelson 2-1-1-1, Gardner 4-1-2-0, Ponzio 3-2-0-1, Griego 3-1-1-1, L. Anderson 3-0-1-1, Kite 2-1-0-1, N. Anderson 0-0-0-0, Beck 0-0-0-0. Totals 31-10-11-7.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Maaherra 2-2-0-0, Lim 4-2-1-0, Wymore 2-0-0-3, Esson 4-1-0-2, Shaul 4-1-2-2, Coan 4-1-1-0, Hackett 4-1-2-1, Lemieux-Mack 1-0-0-0, Dinkel 1-1-0-0, Bajza 2-2-1-0, Blankenship 0-0-0-0, Csapo 0-0-0-0, DeFilippi 0-0-0-0. Totals 28-11-7-8. 2B — Hackett. SB — Shaul 4, Hackett 2, Bajza, Coan, Esson, Lemieux-Mack, Maaherra.
Jefferson Academy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Soto-Gutierrez 5-6-6-5-4-6, Gardner 0-0-2-1-2-0, G. Anderson 1.1-1-3-1-3-3.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — DeFilippi 4-5-5-2-4-2, Csapo 0.1-3-4-4-3-1, Blankenship 2.2-3-1-1-3-4.