GREELEY — The Peak to Peak Pumas have dipped their feet in the Class 3A state tournament pool in three of the last four years.
Definitely a building block for a program that has made great strides over the last decade.
On Friday afternoon at Butch Butler Field in Greeley, coach Derek Urban's youthful team met the gold-standard of 3A baseball in the state of Colorado, the Eaton Reds.
They weren't intimidated, as witnessed by their fast start and their ability to battle. But the Reds heated up with the bats and pitcher Jared Ure found his groove allowing Eaton to move on with a 13-3 five inning victory over the Pumas.
"Eaton is such a great program and they have been in this situation for years and years," Urban said. "And just hearing that name gets kids a little jazzed up."
The loss for the Pumas drops them into the bottom half of the double-elimination draw, where they will face Delta on Saturday morning at University High School. Should they win that game, they will face the loser of the Faith Christian/Lamar game for the right to continue the tournament next week.
It was a great start for Peak to Peak. Leadoff man Matt Bagnato belted the second pitch he saw from Ure deep to the left centerfield fence for a triple and came in two hitters later on a wild pitch to Max Higdon.
Higdon, who went to first on that wild pitch after swinging at strike three, scored after another wild pitch and a Nathan Poretz single.
It was 3-1 in favor of Peak to Peak after two and half innings, then things got a little shaky for the three-man umpiring crew in the bottom half of the third.
With runners at second and third and nobody out, Eaton's Ryder Rich hit a grounder to third and appeared to be thrown out at first by Garrett Shriver, but the first base umpire ruled the throw pulled Baylor Weyer off the bag.
In the ensuing confusion — including Urban out of the dugout trying to call time and Rich rounding the bag to apparently give himself up and head back to the dugout — the runner on third scored and Rich continued on to second when he realized the call.
"You are going to get some of those and what we didn't take advantage of was the situation that arose from the bad call," Urban said. "We got to get those out and we pitched by committee today because that is who we are.
"We have to make sure we have arms for tomorrow and then the next game."
It opened the Eaton floodgates and the Reds — who moved on to face University in the second game — would go on to score 12 runs over the final two innings, including a seven-run fourth that featured two 2-run home runs by Ure and Zeke Hass.
"We've done what we have needed to do thus far and made it to state, where it falls from there is where it is," Urban said. "We've got Max Higdon on the mound tomorrow and we know we are fine. We need to put it together as a lineup though, because it can't be base hit, out-out-out."
None of the four Pumas pitchers — Niko DeNiro, Brandon Alvarez, Shriver or Isaac Nevadomski — threw more than 35 pitches and will be eligible to go if needed on Saturday.
CLASS 3A STATE TOURNAMENT
EATON 13, PEAK TO PEAK 3
At Butch Butler Field
Peak to Peak (14-7) 201 00 — 3 3 4
Eaton (18-3) 105 7x — 13 9 0
W — J. Ure (5-2). L — Alvarez (1-1).
Peak to Peak hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — M. Bagnato 3-1-1-0, DeNiro 2-0-0-0, Alvarez 1-0-0-0, Higdon 3-2-1-0, Weyer 1-0-0-1, Poretz 2-0-1-1, Wilcox 0-0-0-0, Shriver 2-0-0-0, Nevadomski 0-0-0-0, Van Tol 0-0-0-0, A. Bagnato 1-0-0-0, Feddema 2-0-0-0. Totals 17-3-3-2. 3B — M. Bagnato, Higdon. SB — Van Tol 2.
Eaton hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Hass 4-2-2-2, Sandau 2-2-1-0, J. Ure 3-1-2-2, Ry. Rich 2-0-1-1, Grable 0-2-0-0, Williams 2-1-0-0, Schumacher 0-0-0-0, Cunningham 0-1-0-0, Blaskowski 3-1-1-2, Logan 2-1-1-0, Anderson 1-1-1-4. Totals 19-13-9-11. 2B — Blaskowski. HR —J. Ure (1 on in 4th), Hass (1 on in 4th). SB — Grable 2, Hass, Williams, Logan, Sandau, Cunningham.
Peak to Peak pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — DeNiro 1.2-2-1-0-2-3, Alvarez .2-3-5-2-0-0, Shriver 1-2-4-4-1-1, Nevadomski .2-2-3-3-1-1.
Eaton pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — J. Ure 5-3-3-2-2-6.