GREELEY — Holy Family pitcher Zach Trombley has had some issues with the first couple of innings of games all season. As the No. 1 Eaton Reds found out Saturday, Trombley usually rights the ship.
After allowing five runs on four hits and four walks over the first two innings, the Tigers’ ace shut Eaton down, giving his offense a chance to rally for an 8-5 state tournament victory at Butch Butler Field.
The win put No. 2 Holy Family (22-1) in control in the Class 3A title chase as the only team of the remaining four in the double-elimination tournament without a loss. The Tigers will face Lamar on Friday. But win or lose in that one, Holy Family is assured of a spot in next Saturday’s title game.
Eaton (22-1), winner of 10 state titles in the last 20 years, faces Faith Christian in an elimination game on Friday.
Saturday’s game marked a rematch of last year’s title game won by Holy Family. But last year, the Tigers lost their first game of the tournament and had to win five in a row for the crown rather than the plum position they find themselves in now.
“We still have to focus on Friday,” Trombley said. “But it is a little relieving.”
After his early struggles Saturday, Trombley was solid, allowing just one hit and facing just three batters over the minimum over the final five innings. He snared a liner back at him to start a double play to end the sixth inning and then pitched out of a jam in the seventh to close the door.
“I think his adrenaline gets a little too high,” first-year head coach Eric Nakayama said of Trombley’s early struggles. “Once he gets settled down … he’s got a good combination (of velocity and off-speed pitches) out there.”
Down 5-1 early, Holy Family’s offense chipped away at Eaton ace Jake Nelson. The Tigers notched a run in the third and then four in the fourth to chase Nelson and take the lead for good. First baseman Zach Dedin’s bases-loaded two-run single tied the game at 5-5, and then Eaton committed a pair of errors on a double-play ball on the next hitter to allow Trombley to score the go-ahead run.
Matt Erb singled home two more runs in the sixth to give Trombley all the cushion he would need.
“They’re wily and got in my head a little bit,” Trombley said of the Reds. “But when I got focused I just started to kick it in. … I knew we have a hell of a lineup.”
Holy Family entered the contest averaging 15.3 runs per game but was facing an Eaton squad that hadn’t allowed a run in five games.
“We got behind in the count, and that was a big issue,” Eaton coach Jim Danley said. “So they got some pitches to hit, and did a good job hitting them.”
Now Holy Family will try for its second title in a row next weekend and third in five years before moving up to Class 4A next year.
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Holy Family 8, Eaton 5
At Butch Butler Field
Holy Family 101 402 0 — 8 11 1
Eaton 410 000 0 — 5 5 3
W — Trombley. L — Nelson.
Holy Family hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Stanley 4-0-0-0, Brown 5-1-1-1, Granberg 4-3-2-0, Trombley 4-1-2-1, Dedin 5-1-2-2, Tinnon 3-1-1-0, McManus 2-0-0-1, Kreutzer 3-0-1-0, Erb 3-1-2-2. Total 33-8-11-7. 2B — Trombley. SB — Erb.
Eaton hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Nelson 4-2-2-0, Ja. Mondragon 3-1-1-0, Burkart 4-0-0-2, Lind 2-0-0-0, Mossberg 0-1-0-0, Koehler 3-1-0-0, Greiman 2-0-0-1, Tedesco 2-0-1-2, Dyer 3-0-1-0, Jo. Mondragon 3-0-0-0. Total 26-5-5-5. 2B — Nelson, Tedesco, Dyer.
Holy Family pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Trombley 7-5-5-5-6-3.
Eaton pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Nelson 3.1-8-4-4-4-4, Greiman 3.2-3-2-2-1-2.