LAKEWOOD — The Longmont baseball team is a resilient group. Each time they have stumbled, the Trojans have stormed back better than they were before. Their refusal to go quietly propelled the Trojans to the 4A state baseball semifinals.
After losing their final three games of the regular season, the Trojans rebounded to win the 4A District 5 title. They lost their first game in the double-elimination state tournament and turned around to win their next three.
The Trojans’ furious run of do-or-die victories finally ended at All-Star Park on Saturday. On a day when nothing went their way, the Trojans’ season ended one game short of the state championship game with a 9-1 loss to the Green Mountain Rams.
“We’ve had something like four walk-off wins and four others where we’ve won in our last at-bat,” Trojans head coach Tom Fobes said. “The last three weeks have been very stressful and emotional and maybe it just finally caught up with us. We didn’t seem to be drained but we just didn’t have it for one more day.”
Against the Rams (19-7), who went on to beat Niwot 10-2 for the 4A state championship later in the afternoon, the Trojans (17-9) couldn’t sustain their desperate momentum.
Longmont senior starter Brett Sterkel (6-5) walked four of the first 11 Rams batters and trailed 3-1 through the first two innings. Senior designated hitter Spencer Zuege singled to drive in senior right fielder Kyler Leroux, who doubled to lead off the second inning. Those two hits stood as the Trojans’ only offense in seven innings against Rams starter Talon Schaller.
After a scoreless third from Sterkel, the Trojans committed four errors that led to five unearned runs for the Rams against Sterkel and left-handed reliever Nick Madrid.
The Rams scored three runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
“It was just one of those games when not a whole lot went right,” senior outfielder Cameron Yee said. “They played really well so we have to give them credit. I don’t really know what happened. We didn’t get hits, they did. They made the plays when they needed to, we didn’t.”
Trojans lost 9-8 to Durango in the first round of the state tournament on May 16. Facing elimination the next day, the Trojans won 9-8 against Valor Christian and 16-15 against Palmer Ridge. On Friday, they beat the Northern League champion Niwot Cougars 11-4, who swept them during the conference season, to reach Saturday’s semifinal.
While it took a miraculous number of white-knuckle victories to get there, the Trojans never gave up because they always felt capable of a championship run.
“We expected to be here from the beginning,” Yee said. “We knew we had the talent to get here. We just started playing well at districts and things started to roll for us. Today it just ran out, I guess.”
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Green Mountain 9, Longmont 1
At All-Star Park in Lakewood
Longmont 010 000 0 — 1 2 4
Green Mountain 210 330 x — 9 8 1
W — Schaller (4-0). L — Sterkel (6-5).
Longmont hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Yee 2-0-0-0, Amen 3-0-0-0, Bladt 3-0-0-0, Leroux 3-1-1-0, Peterson 3-0-0-0, Zuege 3-0-1-1, Sterkel 3-0-0-0, Andrew 2-0-0-0, Rothe 1-0-0-0, Cacala 0-0-0-0, Madrid 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-1-2-1. 2B — Leroux.
Green Mountain hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Featherston 3-2-1-1, Akiyama 3-1-2-0, Shetterly 3-2-1-1, Schaller 3-1-1-1, Ramirez 3-0-0-1, Rogers 4-0-2-1, Upson 3-0-0-0, Abercrombie 4-1-1-0, Martinez 2-1-0-0, Jacob 0-1-0-0. Totals 28-9-8-5. 2B — Rogers, Featherston.
Longmont pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sterkel 4 1/3-6-7-4-6-2, Madrid 1 2/3-2-2-0-0-2.
Green Mountain pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Schaller 7-2-1-1-2-6.