COLORADO SPRINGS – It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
The Silver Creek baseball team had done everything necessary to position itself to win its program’s first state championship, advancing to the final day of the double-elimination Class 4A state tournament without a loss. The Raptors showed up to UCHealth Park just one win away from glory, but Pueblo West had other plans.
Needing to win once, the Raptors lost twice – 6-5 and 8-6 – to the 2018 runner-up Cyclones who had spent the past two weeks proving themselves to be 4A’s kings of the comeback. With Silver Creek defeating Pueblo West in last weekend’s action, the Raptors and Cyclones were each others’ lone in-state losses so Saturday’s “if game” scenario between the two was a fitting finale.
It just didn’t produce the result the Raptors hoped for.
“This was the two best teams going head-to-head and it’s always fun to see close ball games,” Silver Creek head coach Brad Steward said. “These games came down to the last out and it wasn’t ever lopsided or anything like that. That’s a great ball club over there. Their kids play hard with a lot of grit, a lot of heart, and it says a lot about our two programs that only we could beat each other.”
Pueblo West (28-3) lost to two teams from New Mexico and Silver Creek (27-4) dropped a pair while on a spring break trip in Las Vegas.
In the first game on Saturday, Silver Creek scored four runs in the third inning on four hits including run-scoring singles from Michael Wegleitner, Spencer Rich and Cam Hassert. The Raptors led 5-1 through the top of the fifth before Pueblo West responded with its own four-run frame in the bottom half to tie the game. The Cyclones finally pushed across the game-winner in the eighth inning to force a second and final elimination contest.
Pueblo West took the early lead in game two with a pair of runs in the first inning and continued to score methodically with at least a run in five of its six innings at the plate. The Raptors cut the lead to one run on three separate occasions but could never quite come all the way back, going down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh needing two runs to tie the game.
“We made a few mistakes and mental errors, and we didn’t have the quality at-bats we usually have,” Steward said. “But our kids could have rolled over once they went up early and they fought through it the way they have all year long and made it interesting there at the end.”
It may not have ended how the Raptors wanted but the 2019 campaign was one to remember. Their 27 wins were the most in their program’s history and they had never before advanced to a state title game.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys and our staff,” Steward said. “These guys set out to put Silver Creek back to where it should be, baseball-wise. They did a great job of playing together as a team all year long and supporting each other. They represented their school very well.”
Pueblo West 6, Silver Creek 5 (8)
At UCHealth Park
Silver Creek (27-4) 004 010 00 – 5 10 4
Pueblo West (28-3) 010 040 01 – 6 6 2
W – Gist. L – Vialpando.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Jackson 5-1-0-0, Wegleitner 5-0-2-1, S. Rich 3-0-1-1, Swenson 4-1-0-0, Regan 4-0-2-0, Hassert 2-1-1-1, A. Rich 4-0-1-0, Koelfgen 2-0-0-0, Magill 2-0-1-0, Olinger 3-0-2-1, Vialpando 0-1-0-0, Belcher 0-1-0-0. Totals 34-5-10-4.
Pueblo West hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Jameson 3-1-0-0, Declusin 4-1-1-2, Cordova 2-2-0-0, Blackford 4-0-2-1, Mason 3-1-0-0, Barth 4-0-2-1, Dionisio 3-0-0-0, Sanchez 2-1-0-0, Gist 3-0-1-0. Totals 28-6-6-4. SB – Cordova.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Regan 4.2-4-5-3-3-4, Vialpando 3-2-1-1-1-1.
Pueblo West pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Davis 6.2-10-5-2-2-5, Gist 1.1-0-0-0-0-2.
Pueblo West 8, Silver Creek 6
At UCHealth Park
Silver Creek (27-4) 011 022 0 – 6-10 0
Pueblo West (28-3) 210 311 x – 8 11 3
W – Gist. L – Wegleitner. SV – Rudd.
Silver Creek hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Jackson 3-0-0-0, Wegleitner 4-0-2-2, S. Rich 5-0-0-0, Swenson 4-1-2-0, Regan 4-1-1-0, Hassert 3-1-1-2, A. Rich 4-0-1-0, Brown 3-1-2-2, Olinger 3-0-1-0, Sroka 0-1-0-0, Belcher 0-1-0-0. Totals 33-6-10-6. 2B – Olinger, Hassert. 3B – Regan. SB – Swenson.
Pueblo West hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) – Jameson 4-2-4-2, Declusin 4-1-1-0, Cordova 2-1-0-0, Blackford 2-1-2-3, Mason 2-0-0-0, Barth 4-0-2-3, Dionisio 3-1-1-0, Sanchez 2-1-1-0, Gist 2-0-0-0, Stiner 0-1-0-0. Totals 25-8-11-8. SB – Blackford.
Silver Creek pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Wegleitner 3.2-9-6-6-1-2, Koelfgen 1.1-2-1-1-2-1, Hassert 1-0-1-1-2-1.
Pueblo West pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Gist 4-6-2-2-3-2, Neff 2-4-4-4-2-0, Rudd 1-0-0-0-1-0.