DENVER — The Holy Family baseball team is not too far removed from one of the most dominating stretches of seasons in recent memory, winning three Class 3A state championships in a span of five years and producing some tremendous collegiate players along the way.
The move up to 4A took some time getting used to, but only now does it seem like last year's stepping-stone campaign with Marc Cowell's return to the dugout can be fully appreciated.
With a total team effort, the Tigers took that next step on Saturday at their 4A regional tournament at Denver North High School, securing a state tournament berth after bouncing Jeffco teams D'Evelyn and Wheat Ridge on the season's most pressure-packed day.
Weston Siefkin threw five innings of one-hit ball to help HFHS down D'Evelyn 11-1 in the opener, and junior Jordan McFarland and Collin Kringlen combined to silence the bats of Wheat Ridge in an 8-4 decision.
For the first time in 4A, and for the first time since 2014 when they last won it all, the Tigers are among the final eight teams remaining.
"Last year was about getting the program back on track a little bit and I thought the seniors did a great job with the group of sophomores — who now you sit here and they're juniors and now the objective is to take the next step," said Cowell, whose squad improved to 20-4 and will await more results to see who they get to play on Friday. "We were able to do that today. The trajectory is going in the right direction and you just hope to keep riding that momentum."
"It's awesome to be the first team from our school to do it (in 4A), and (state) is going to be just awesome," said Kringlen, who shut the door on the Farmers in both the sixth and seventh innings. "I think we're prepared, and we're confident."
While the Tigers used a little bit of everything to manufacture 19 runs in the two games — from three extra-base hits against the Jaguars to small-ball play ad patience against the Farmers — pitching depth made the biggest difference for Holy Family in their second 4A regional appearance.
Siefkin set the tone by pitching to contact and not messing around with deep counts and in fact needed just 67 pitches to get through his time in Game 1.
McFarland and Kringlen made sure Siefkin would not be needed in the title game. While McFarland gave up seven hits in five innings, five of them came in the fifth after his team had spotted him an 8-1 lead.
Wheat Ridge closed the gap to 8-4 with the help of a couple of infield singles, but McFarland ended his day with a huge strikeout of WRHS' Aaron Arcilise with the bases loaded.
The Farmers couldn't catch up to the harder-throwing Kringlen — a junior who also drove in four runs in the first game. He walked the leadoff batter in the seventh but got a strikeout looking, a high infield pop fly and a lazy outfield fly to end the game.
"Siefkin was just on the mark, simply outstanding, and while Jordan didn't have all of his best stuff ... he gave up some hits that you just can't do much about," Cowell said. "But it's great to be able to say, Collin, go in there and finish the game out, or, hey Zach (Becker, another reliever), go in there and close this. Pitching's been our key all year and I expect it to be the same starting next weekend."
"It's great to be as deep in pitching as we are, and just such an advantage if we get things done early," Kringlen said. "We have a lot to be able to follow up with another game."
Zach Becker (three hits, three runs), Phillip Neill (two hits, three RBI) and Davis Martinek (two hits, two runs, two RBI) led the charge for Holy Family on the offensive side.
The 4A state tournament's early games will be held at two different venues — All Star Park in Lakewood and at Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver.
Holy Family 11, D'Evelyn 1
At Denver North HS
D'Evelyn000 10 — 1 1 2
Holy Family343 1x — 11 9 0
W — Weston Siefkin. L — Helmreich.
Holy Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Zach Becker 2-3-2-3, Jordan Closen 2-1-1-0, Collin Kringlen 3-2-2-4, Will Brassil 3-0-0-0, Phillip Neill 1-1-1-1, Matthew Delgado 2-1-1-1, Josh Baker 3-0-0-0, Jacob Callaway 2-0-1-1, Austin Sasser 0-1-0-0, Davis Martinek 2-2-1-0. Totals 20-11-9-10. 2B —Becker 2, Kringlen. 3B —Delgado, Neill.
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Siefkin 5-1-1-1-1-7.
Holy Family 8, Wheat Ridge 4
At Denver North HS
Wheat Ridge000 130 0 — 4 7 0
Holy Family015 200 x — 8 7 2
W — Jordan McFarland. L — Yenzer.
Holy Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Zach Becker 4-0-1-0, Jordan Closen 4-2-2-0, Collin Kringlen 2-2-1-0, Will Brassil 3-0-1-1, Phillip Neill 2-1-1-2, Matthew Delgado 1-1-0-0, Josh Baker 1-0-0-1, Jacob Callaway 2-0-0-1, Austin Sasser 0-2-0-0, Davis Martinek 2-0-1-2. Totals 21-8-7-7. 2B —Closen. SB —Sasser 2, Delgado, Kringlen, Martinek, Neill.
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — McFarland 5-7-4-3-2-5, Kringlen 2-0-0-0-1-2.