DENVER — Holy Family coach Marc Cowell had a simple plan for his Tigers during the opening couple of days of the Class 4A state tournament — win two games and move on to next week's Final Four.
And, despite an 8-4 loss to Valor Christian Tuesday afternoon at the Regency Athletic Complex at Metropolitan State, that plan remains intact.
There's just no margin for error anymore in the double-elimination tournament.
"Our goal heading into this was we had to win two," Cowell said. "We can still do that."
The same holds true for Longmont, which fell to Pueblo West 12-7 in the opening game of the 4A tourney at Metro State Tuesday.
"It's simple now," Trojans coach Tom Fobes said. "We win or we go home."
Holy Family and Longmont will square off against one another in an elimination game Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at All-Star Park in Lakewood. The loser will be done for the season; the winner will have to win another game at 12:30 p.m. to advance to next week's semifinals.
The game with the Cyclones followed a familiar script to many of the Trojans' contests this season. Unfortunately for Longmont, the roles were switched this time around.
Longmont pitchers struggled to find the strike zone and issued 13 walks while only striking out five.
"The recipe we've used all year to win games was reversed on us today," Fobes said. "We don't normally walk people and we scratch out runs, and that's what they were able to do to us. We didn't come up with one big hit today, and then the bottom kind of fell out on us."
The Cyclones nine-hole hitter, Isaiah Avila, drove in five and had a bases-clearing double in the fifth inning that broke the game wide open.
Longmont, meanwhile, left 11 stranded on base. Noah Befus drove in three, including a two-run double in the top of the seventh, and Kascen Deeter had a pair of hits and scored two runs to pace the Trojans.
Holy Family took advantage of some sloppy play by Valor Christian to build a 2-0 lead after two innings, scoring the runs without registering a hit.
That was a trend that wouldn't continue throughout the game, however, and the lack of hitting came back to haunt the Tigers.
Eagles pitchers limited Holy Family to six hits total, and the Tigers left seven runners on base.
"That's been our story the whole season," Cowell said. "We've missed out on getting key hits in key situations."
Jordan Closen picked up three of Holy Family's hits, and Collin Kringlen drove in a pair of runs.
Even with the loss, Cowell remained optimistic about the Tigers' chances to advance because of the depth of his pitching staff. Despite using Jordan McFarland and Matthew Delgado against Valor Christian, Holy Family can still roll out Kringlen (1.81 ERA), Weston Siefken (6-3, 3.16 ERA) and Will Brassil (3.34 ERA), among others.
"We feel good about our arms the deeper we go in this tournament. I still feel like we're in a good spot," Cowell said.
John Rosa: 303-473-1315, email@example.com
Valor Christian 8, Holy Family 4
At Metro State
Holy Family110 010 1 — 4 7 2
Valor Christian001 304 x — 8 11 3
W — Valor Christian: Reid. L — McFarland.
Holly Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Becker 4-1-1-0, Closen 4-2-3-0, Kringlen 2-0-1-2, Brassil 3-0-1-1, Neill 3-1-0-0, Baker 3-0-1-0, McGowan 1-0-0-1, McFarland 2-0-0-0, Perez 1-0-0-0, Martinek 2-0-0-0. Totals 25-4-7-4. 2B —Kringlen, Brassil. SB —Neill.
Valor Christian hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Howell 4-0-1-1, Kuzma 2-0-1-0, Schonechaum 4-0-0-0, Ziegler 3-2-1-0, Barber 3-1-2-0, Kinder 3-1-2-1, Wiesner 3-0-1-2, Buehler 2-2-2-2, Birkholz 2-0-1-2. Totals 26-8-11-8. 2B — Ziegler, Kinder. 3B —Buehler.
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — McFarland 5.1-10-8-6-2-1, Delgado .2-1-0-0-1-1.
Valor Christian pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Reid 5.1-5-3-2-4-1, Estes 1.2-2-1-1-1-1.
Pueblo West 12, Longmont 7
Longmont040 010 2 — 7 9 1
Pueblo West021 063 x — 12 8 2
W — Pueblo West: Garcia. L — Hassler.
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Zamudio 3-1-1-1, Renck 5-1-2-1, Befus 3-0-1-3, Hassler 4-0-0-1, Peterson 2-0-0-0, Thompson 4-1-1-0, Carson 3-1-1-0, Deeter 4-2-2-0, Rulon 3-1-1-0. Totals 31-7-9-6. 2B —Deeter, Rulon, Befus. SB —Deeter.
Pueblo West hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Jameson 2-1-1-1, Cordova 4-0-1-1, Declusin 5-1-2-2, Barth 2-2-1-0, Thomas 4-1-1-1, Blackford 2-1-0-0, Davis 1-2-0-0, Lucero 2-1-1-0, Mason 0-1-0-1, Avila 2-1-1-5. Totals 24-12-8-11. 2B — Avila, Thomas.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hassler 4.2-3-6-6-9-3, Pohl 1.1-5-6-6-4-2.
Pueblo West pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Garcia 2-4-4-4-5-1, Davis 5-5-3-3-3-7.