LAKEWOOD — Holy Family understood that Collin Kringlen's time on the mound was going to be limited on Wednesday afternoon, but that did little to lessen the impact that his departure had on the remainder of the Tigers' 4A state tournament game with Cheyenne Mountain.
Through three complete innings of play in the elimination game at All-Star Park, Holy Family had built a 3-1 lead and Kringlen had seemed to be heating up, striking out three straight at one point between the second and third inning.
But pitch count rules and minor health concerns about his hip meant that Kringlen had to leave the bump, and things immediately turned south, as the Indians turned four walks, two hit batsmen and two singles into a six-run fourth frame.
Cheyenne Mountain eventually went on to post a 12-5 victory, ending the Tigers most successful season at the 4A level one game short of the state semifinals.
Kringlen came in to close out Holy Family's first game Wednesday, a 7-6 win over Longmont. He only threw three pitches in the contest, getting a game-ending double-play to kill a Trojans rally, but that meant he could only throw a total of 60 pitches between the two contests.
"We knew we were going to have limited pitches with (Kringlen), so we just tried to take him as far as we could with pitch count and what his hip would allow him to do," Holy Family coach Marc Cowell said. "We just figured, knowing we were going to have a very limited pitch count, have him get us through the first (game) and then see how far he could get us through the second."
Kringlen said he did feel like he was starting to find his rhythm against Cheyenne Mountain, only to bump into the pitch-count barrier.
"It's not disappointing so much as it is just frustrating in that I didn't get to help my team out more," Kringlen said. "I was confident in our other players that they could go out there and take up what I had started."
If he hadn't pitched in the first game, Kringlen could have thrown 110 pitches against Cheyenne Mountain. But, as Cowell pointed out, if Kringlen hadn't pitched against Longmont, the Tigers may not have even made it to the game with the Indians.
"If we don't win that one, the second game we're never there," Cowell said.
Still, even after Cheyenne Mountain's fourth-inning eruption, Holy Family had its chances. They loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth, but could only manage to push across a single run.
The Tigers also left two men on in the sixth, and then gave up three runs in the top of the seventh to make any kind of comeback attempt improbable.
"When we make mistakes, give Cheyenne Mountain credit, they made us pay," Cowell said. "We'd get three (runs) and we'd give back six. We'd get one and we'd give back two. You can't do that."
Holy Family advanced to the game with Cheyenne Mountain but outlasting Longmont in the days first game, building a 7-0 lead only to see Longmont claw back into it. But with only one out and the tying run on second and the winning run on first, Kringlen came on and got a double-play ball, a line shot down first that Weston Siefken was able to snag out of the air for the first out, and then tag first before the Trojans' runner could get back to double him out for the game's final out.
Siefken was the winning pitcher against Longmont, tossing six strong innings, while Phil Neill went 4-for-4 with two runs scored. Neill also made a great leaping catch in left that saved multiple runs in the sixth.
The trip to the state tournament marked Holy Family's most successful season since making the jump to 4A, and a huge improvement from the five-win campaign of two years ago. And with only four seniors on the roster, the Tigers believe the best is yet to come.
"It's the farthest we've made it in 4A and that's awesome for next year, too," said Kringlen, a junior. "We're returning a bunch of kids so it's going to be a great year, too."
Cowell agreed: "This was a great step. Our seniors did a great job, and the great thing is most of our team is juniors and we have a really strong freshman class coming through as well. I think we're in great shape."
John Rosa: 303-473-1315, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheyenne Mountain 12, Holy Family 5
At All-Star Park
Cheyenne Mountain001 620 3 — 12 10 0
Holy Family003 110 0 — 5 8 2
W — Cheyenne Mountain Berkhoff. L — Becker.
Cheyenne Mountain hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Carpenter 2-4-1-2, McCleary 5-1-3-3, Berkhoff 3-2-1-1, Denker 4-0-0-1, Ellis 4-0-2-2, Morley 5-1-2-0, Buckler 2-1-0-0, Berkhoff 3-0-1-0, Dodson 2-0-0-0, Randall 1-0-0-0, Helton 0-0-0-0, Jackson 0-3-0-0. 2B — Morley. SB — Jackson, Carpenter.
Holy Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Becker 3-2-2-0, Closen 3-1-1-1, King 1-0-0-0, Siefken 1-0-1-1, Sasser 1-1-0-0, Brassil 4-0-2-2, Neill 3-0-0-0, Baker 3-1-1-0, Delgado 2-0-0-0, Callaway 2-0-1-1, Martinek 2-0-0-0, McGowan 0-0-0-0. 2B — Baker.
Cheyenne Mountain pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Berkhoff 4-7-5-5-3-2, Dodson 3-1-0-0-2-2.
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kringlen 3-3-1-1-2-3, Becker 0.2-2-6-6-4-0, Baker 2-3-2-1-2-2, Delgado 1-2-3-1-1-1, Sasser 0.1-0-0-0-1-0.