WESTMINSTER — Daniel Lee is a team-first guy, but the Legacy third baseman had to admit it. After hitting his first home run of the season earlier Tuesday, bunting didn’t seem very appealing.
The homer had earned him a little leeway in what turned out to be a playoff-clinching 6-5 win at Mountain Range. A little.
“Coach told me he was going to give me one shot to hit that fastball the other way,” Lee said of Lightning skipper Ty Giordano. “After that, he was going to give me a drag (bunt).”
With his allotted swing, Lee punched a single into right field to score Jacob Long from second. It broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the sixth and stood up as the winning run after some glove (and pitching) wizardry from Tyler Clapper.
“To be honest, I really wanted to hit the ball,” Lee said with a laugh.
The victory allowed the Lightning to ascend above the muddled mess of five teams — including Mountain Range — that entered the day tied for second place in the rugged Class 5A Front Range League.
Thanks to two-run homers by Lee and Dillon Bollig, the Lightning and pitcher Devin Osbment were cruising with a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. But a two-out pop up by Mountain Range’s Cory Cyrus fell between two fielders for a two-run single and Osbment was lifted with a 5-3 lead.
Reliever Colbey Kozanecki’s first pitch was bashed over the left-field wall for Tyler Fox’s second homer of the contest and the Lightning suddenly were entrenched in a tie ballgame.
“When adversity hit us, we punched back,” Legacy left fielder and cleanup hitter Jake Bublitz said. “That’s what we’ve worked on lately. If they punch us, we’re going to be ready to counter it.”
In a well-played contest that featured zero walks, Mountain Range (12-6, 6-4) looked poised to tie it again in the bottom of the sixth. That’s when Clapper caught Daniel Newton’s sinking line drive in center for the final out with two runners aboard. Then he shut the door with a scoreless seventh on the mound.
“Legacy’s good. They swing it,” Mountain Range coach Jeremy Lustik said. “We wriggled out of some jams at the end and gave ourselves a chance to rally.”
While Mountain Range now must defeat Fort Collins on Thursday to enter the postseason mix, the Lightning will be playing for seeding as they close out with Greeley West.
“A chance to play more baseball is definitely a great thing and a great opportunity,” Bublitz said.
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Legacy 6, Mountain Range 5
At Mountain Range H.S.
Legacy (14-4, 7-3) 020 121 0 — 6 12 1
Mountain Range (12-6, 6-4) 010 040 0 — 5 8 1
W — Kozanecki (2-0). L — Meltz (5-4). Sv — Clapper (2).
Legacy hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Clapper 3-1-1-0, Bollig 4-1-2-2, Overboe 4-0-0-0, Bublitz 4-1-2-0, Wells 3-0-1-0, Wilson 0-0-0-0, Long 3-1-3-0, Baum 0-1-0-0, Lee 4-1-2-3, Farrell 2-0-0-0, Collison 3-0-1-0, Wessel. Totals 30-6-12-5. 2B — Clapper, Long. HR — Lee (one on in 2nd), Bollig (one on in 5th). SB — Wessel.
Mountain Range hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Newton 4-1-2-0, Walker 4-1-1-0, Cyrus 4-1-1-2, Fox 2-2-2-3, Draper 3-0-0-0, Meltz 3-0-0-0, Wamsley 3-0-0-0, Pelster 2-0-0-0, Maestas 1-0-1-0, Adams 3-0-1-0. Totals 29-5-8-5. 2B — Newton. HR — Fox 2 (solo in 2nd, one on in 5th).
Legacy pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Osbment 4.2-5-4-4-0-3, Kozanecki 1.1-3-1-1-0-0, Clapper 1-0-0-0-0-1.
Mountain Range pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Meltz 5-9-6-5-0-5, Adams 1.2-3-0-0-0-0, Cyrus 0.1-0-0-0-0-0.