DENVER — An age-old coach’s refrain is to never look past the game at hand. From what Ryan McCulley took from Saturday’s District 7 baseball tournament, his team failed to heed that advice.
The 19th-seed Eagles lost 6-3 to No. 14 Cheyenne Mountain in the Northern League champion’s opening game of Class 4A postseason. But when McCulley reflects on the day, he sees the defending state champions sowing the seeds of its demise a game earlier.
The Eagles rolled in during the young postseason’s biggest upset with 30th-seed Windsor beating the No. 3 D’Eveyln 9-3. From that point on, the Broomfield outfielder believes his team thought its position in the district finals was all but preordained.
“I think we might have looked past the first game and were excited to play Windsor,” McCulley said. “We just weren’t ready to play Cheyenne Mountain.”
The Eagles (11-9) planning for the finals before they earned their spot was not a wise decision given the district they drew. All four teams at the tournament were part of the 2012 double elimination championship series and it more than showed.
Cheyenne Mountain (13-7) was ready to exploit the slightest miscue and were handed the opportunity early on in the game. The team took an early lead in the third, when what should have been a RBI single turned into a three-run explosion aided by a Broomfield fielding error.
The Indians continued to build on the momentum in the fourth when Evan Castle came up with the single biggest at bat of the afternoon. Cheyenne Mountain constructed its winning margin by sending three runners home off a double by the outfielder.
“They capitalized off a couple of our mistakes, it shows what sort of club they are,” Broomfield coach Garren Estes said. “A good team will take advantage of opportunities like that and they did.”
Broomfield put itself in position to rally the next inning with the team finally getting pitcher Mike Levar’s timing down. Three of the first four Eagles batter got on base in the fifth and Hayden Estes and Kyle Holbrook got the team on the scoreboard with an RBI each. But the promising comeback was cut short.
Holbrook got caught stealing second for the second out of the inning. Then Levan recorded his second-to-last strikeout of the afternoon to end the Broomfield’s most promising at-bat of the game.
McCulley gave the Eagles one last glimmer of hope in the sixth, hitting a solo home run with two outs. But instead of being a spark the Eagles needed it turned out to be the team’s last hit.
“I thought that was going to jump start the rest of our team,” McCulley said. “We were hoping that we were going to have a better effort in the last inning, but it just didn’t happen.”
The loss marks the earliest exit the Eagles have made in state play in awhile. The last time the team failed to make the district championship was in 2008. Despite the disheartening finish, Estes was pleased with the fight his team showed even after the Indians had built a substantial lead.
“We could have easily tanked it,” the coach said. “We down 6-0 pretty early, they’re hitting the ball we’re not. But we bounced back, we just kept scratching and fighting.”
Follow Elwood on Twitter:
Cheyenne Mountain 6, Broomfield 3
At D’Evelyn H.S.
Broomfield (11-9) 000 021 0 — 3 7 2
Cheyenne Mountain (13-7) 003 300 x — 6 5 0
W — Levan (8-2). L — Thomas (2-3)
Broomfield hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Holbrook 4-0-1-1, Bailey 3-0-2-0, Gable 3-0-0-0, Martinez 3-0-0-0, Perez 3-0-1-0, McCulley 3-1-1-1, Brewer 3-1-1-0, Sena 2-1-1-0, Estes 3-0-0-1. Total 27-3-7-3. 2B — Sena. HR — McCulley (solo in the sixth).
Cheyenne Mountain hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Garcia 3-1-0-0, Levar 3-1-1-0, Castle 3-1-2-3, Lacayo 2-1-0-0, O’Neil 2-0-1-1, McCurry 2-0-0-0, Craparotta 3-0-1-0, Seaton 3-0-0-0, Bieber 0-2-0-0. Totals 31-6-5-4. 2B — Castle, Levar.
Broomfield pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Thomas 3.2-2-6-3-6-3, Biesterfield 2.1-3-0-0-2-2.
Cheyenne Mountain pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Levan 6-7-3-3-1-3.