BOULDER — Sam McGill didn't see it going down this way.
He was one of seven recently graduated Fairview Knights in the starting lineup that very unexpectedly played their final game in a Knights uniform on Saturday afternoon in the Legion A state tournament.
It was a lineup that has resurrected itself after a bumpy stretch had them questioning themselves, but started to play good ball at the right time. Even after their first loss of the tournament in the morning to the Mountain Rangers, David Castillo's squad still felt good about their chances against Grand Junction's Gene Taylor.
Despite a 20-hit effort, the combination of Fairview miscues — both mental and physical — and a big day from the opposition's Trey Morrill (who hit for the cycle) was just enough to for Gene Taylor to stay alive 12-11.
"It's bittersweet because I really didn't expect it to be the last game," said McGill, who along with battery mate Will Mossa will head to Edgewood College in Wisconsin this fall. "We had a lot of confidence. We knew we were going to come in mashing.
"The big innings killed us."
The biggest inning for the boys from the other side of the mountains was the bottom of the sixth. After Fairview had knotted the score at 5-5 in the top half, Gene Taylor responded with six of their own in the bottom half.
They were able to chase Mossa out of the game and then nine-hole hitter Christian Hafey's two-run single off reliever Danny Sheridan — who was marvelous in his 2 ⅔ innings of work — gave them a six-run cushion.
But the Knights didn't buckle and the bats stayed hot. Two runs in the seventh and then four more in the eighth — including two unearned runs — made things interesting going to the final frame.
"We were glad just to make it. We had a tough stretch and then we just sort of bonded as a team and won 10 of our last 12," said McGill, who went 4-for-4 with three doubles and 2 RBIs. "We felt like we should be here. It was a different group of guys that decided to mesh.
"We knew we were good, we just didn't know how good we could be."
Morrill's home run to straight away center field in the bottom of the seventh inning proved to be the difference and the senior-to-be at Fruita Monument High was pumped as he rounded the bases — shouting "cycle baby, yeah!"
Gene Taylor will play the winner of the Mountain Rangers versus Greeley GoJo on Sunday at 10 a.m.
GENE TAYLOR 12, FAIRVIEW 11
Fairview001 202 240 — 11 20 4
Gene Taylor311 006 10x — 12 16 2
W — Dakota Dunham. L — Will Mossa.
Fairview hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Will Mossa 5-0-2-2, Danny Sheridan 6-0-1-0, Brett Jones 6-0-1-0, Tyler Carpenter 4-0-2-1, Jake Willemsen 6-1-2-0, Jeff Erickson 6-3-3-0, Cole Carrigan 5-3-2-1, Sam McGill 4-3-4-2, Josh Haensly 5-1-3-3. 2B — McGill 3, Jones, Sheridan, Haensly. SB — Carpenter.
Fairview pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Mossa 5.1-13-11-9-2-4, Sheridan 2.2-3-1-1-0-3.