DENVER — The Boulder Legion B baseball team just keeps getting better the deeper it goes into the American Legion state tournament.
Following an early scare in the form of a walk-off win over Jefferson Academy on Thursday, the top-seeded Panthers have outscored their last two opponents by a combined 24 runs after defeating Elizabeth 15-1 at Machebeuf High School on Saturday afternoon.
Three wins and a total of 39 runs later, the Panthers are now in the state championship game.
Riding starter Noel Hackett, who held Elizabeth to just one unearned run, the Panthers will spend Saturday night waiting confidently to find out when and where they will make their bid for a state title.
"Noel was great on the mound and we just couldn't make an out in the second inning" Boulder head coach Jack Taylor said. "Everybody contributed in that inning, and we stayed strong the rest of the way. We're just playing really well, playing good baseball."
Still unbeaten in the 10-team, double-elimination state tournament, the Panthers could face any one of four teams in the title game. The winner of Saturday's late game between Conifer and Windsor will face Eaglecrest on Sunday morning. The winner of that game will take on Elizabeth in the next game, and the winner there will face Boulder in the state final, needing two wins to take down the No. 1-seeded Panthers.
If any team but Elizabeth reached the title game, it will be played on Monday, since tournament rules dictate that no team can play more than two games on a given day. Whichever team they face, the Panthers know they'll have No. 1 starter Jake Shaul on the mound.
"Jake has been great for us all season so we feel pretty good about having him on the mound," Taylor said. "If we continue to swing it like we have, we feel good going into tomorrow."
Against Elizabeth, the Panthers did most of their damage during an eight-run second inning and then turned around and added five more in the third. The Panthers scoring early and often on 10 total hits allowed them to get out of the game in just five innings.
Shaul and Jackson Dinkel, who drove in four runs, each had two hits. Nathaniel Lim walked three times and scored three runs, and the Panthers totaled four extra-base hits.
Boulder 15, Elizabeth 1
At Machebeuf H.S.
Boulder 185 01 — 15 10 1
Elizabeth 000 10 — 1 5 2
W — Hackett. L — Berndt.
Boulder hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Maaherra 2-2-0-0, Lim 1-3-1-1, Wymore 4-0-1-2, Csapo 2-2-1-0, Bajza 0-0-0-0, Esson 3-2-1-2, Shaul 4-2-2-1, Dinkel 2-1-2-4, Lemieux-Mack 1-0-0-0, Coan 3-1-1-1, DeFilippi 2-2-1-1, Hackett 0-0-0-0. Totals 24-15-10-12. 2B — Coan, DeFilippi, Dinkel, Lim. SB — Lim 2, Maaherra 2, Bajza.
Elizabeth hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Weidenbacher 3-0-0-0, Bauer 3-0-2-0, Brown 3-0-0-0, Steinke 3-0-1-0, Berndt 3-1-1-0, Speicher 1-0-1-0, McMillan 1-0-0-0, Bott 0-0-0-0, Bauerle 1-0-0-0, Coleman 0-0-0-1, McFaddon 2-0-0-0. Totals 20-1-5-1. 2B — Steinke. SB — Brown.
Boulder pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hackett 5-5-1-0-3-4.
Elizabeth pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Berndt 2-7-13-11-8-1, Steinke 0.2-2-1-1-0-1, Bauerle 2.1-1-1-1-1-0.