COLORADO SPRINGS — The Silver Creek Raptors did not need to win Friday afternoon to play for the state title, but they still came out and did their thing to remain unbeaten in the Class 4A state tournament.
Offense in bunches in the first and sixth innings made the difference for the Raptors to defeat the Fort Morgan Mustangs 13-7 at UCHealth Park in Colorado Springs, leaving just two teams in the Class 4A state baseball tournament.
“It felt good to see us hit the baseball,” Silver Creek coach Brad Steward said. “We were in a couple barnburners last week, so it felt good to come out today and swing it a little bit.”
Silver Creek finished with 17 hits for their fourth double-digit hit performance at the plate in the tournament. They wasted no time getting on the board with four runs in the first inning off five hits. Justin Swenson drove in the first run with a fielder’s choice and Cameron Hassert followed with a two-run single. The final run came from Alex Rich’s run-scoring single.
The same aggressive approach of attacking pitchers early carried over and paid off Friday afternoon.
“Our whole approach all year is to see the fastball and adjust off-speed,” Hassert said. “We were getting a lot of fastballs early in the count and we jumped on it. Luckily we found a hole and it paid off.”
The Raptors scored three more runs in the next two innings to chase Fort Morgan starter Mateo Salcido with a 7-1 lead.
What looked to be an easy win turned tight in the middle portion of the game when Silver Creek was held off the board and Fort Morgan answered with three runs in the fifth. Two-out singles forced Silver Creek to turn to Matthew Koelfgen to halt Fort Morgan’s momentum and keep the lead at a three-run deficit, which he did by getting a ground ball out to first base against Austin Apple in the sixth.
It was then that Silver Creek’s offense opened the floodgates, this time with six runs off eight hits to put the lead out of reach. Tanner Regan began the scoring with an RBI single, and that was followed by Hassert’s third hit and doubles from Christopher Brown and Rex Olinger to all drive in runs. All six runs scored in the sixth came with two outs.
“We say that we don’t want to feel pressure, we want to create pressure,” Steward said. “They took that pressure situation and put it on themselves to not feel it and put the nail in the coffin to put it away.”
Koelfgen and Charlie Belcher pitched the seventh6 inning and allowed three runs before recording the final out to advance to the state championship.
Saturday, Silver Creek will face top-seed Pueblo West to try and nab their first state baseball title. The first game will be played at 10 a.m. at UCHealth Park. Should Pueblo West win that game, the two teams would then meet in a winner-take-all final shortly after the conclusion of the first game.
But like they did Friday, the goal is to come get a win in the morning to bring home the state title for the first time in program history.
“I think we have to stay with our approach,” Hassert said. “We have all of our arms left to throw. As long as we jump out like we did today, it will be real good for us.”
Silver Creek 13, Fort Morgan 7
At UCHealth Park
Fort Morgan (19-10) 001 030 3 — 7 13 3
Silver Creek (27-2) 412 006 x — 13 17 2
W — Ryan Suess (5-1) L — Mateo Salcido (5-2).
Fort Morgan hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — JP Hamer 5-2-1-2, Jacob Ortega 4-0-1-0, Isaac Linker 4-1-2-2, Nick Norris 4-1-1-1, Javier Baquera 4-0-0-0, Nick Beltran 4-0-1-2, Connor Fajardo 4-1-1-0, Austin Apple 3-2-2-0, Alex Ortega 3-0-1-0, Mateo Salcido 1-0-1-0. Totals 36-7-11-7. 2B — Hamer.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Charlie Jackson 5-1-2-0, Michael Wegleitner 5-1-1-1, Spencer Rich 3-1-2-0, Justin Swenson 4-2-1-1, Tanner Regan 4-1-1-1, Cameron Hassert 4-3-3-3, Alex Rich 4-2-2-2, Christopher Brown 4-1-1-2, Rex Olinger 4-1-1-2. Totals 38-13-17-12. 2B — Hassert 2. SB — Jackson, Rich, Brown, Olinger, Hassert.
Fort Morgan pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Salcido 2.1-7-6-5-2-1, Jacob Ortega 3.1-6-6-6-3-0, Nick Castaneda .1-1-0-0-0-0.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Suess 5.2-9-4-3-2-1, Matthew Koelfgen .2-0-1-2-2-0, Charlie Belcher .2-3-1-1-1-0.