BROOMFIELD — Holy Family baseball had little doubt it would make another appearance at state this year.
On a sweltering Monday afternoon at their own home Class 4A regional tournament, the fourth-seeded Tigers made it official when they took out No. 13 Elizabeth in a six-inning, 11-1 mercy rule decision.
Now, they’ll be headed back to the coveted state stage in Pueblo.
“It feels pretty good,” senior ace Izaak Siefken said. “We expected to be here all year. Hopefully, we can come out and get a couple more wins and make it real.”
Siefken started out the game for the Tigers and threw 4 1/3 innings, striking out 10 batters in the process with no earned runs. The lone Cardinal run came by way of a passed ball.
As with a number of their 16 wins this season, the Tiger bats were as hot as the weather. A slow offensive start finally broke through in the third inning, and Elizabeth couldn’t stanch the bleeding after that.
It helped, of course, that Siefken and, eventually, senior pitcher Blake Hammond stayed solid on the mound to stave off any Cardinal scoring. Siefken still felt relieved when the runners started crossing the plate, one after another.
“I definitely think our greatest strength is our pitching. We’re pretty deep compared to most of the other teams and we fight really hard. Our dugout is the best one in the state,” Siefken said. “I came out and threw a lot of pitches early. It took a load off me and the other pitcher, so it helped a lot, knowing that we could just throw strikes and not have to worry about the runs.”
Elizabeth took the early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when, on a strike three passed ball, the Cardinals sent a man home from third base.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the third, first on a two-out sacrifice fly from Blake Hammond and then on a passed ball that brought Brennan Bennett home. Ryan Chacon made the Cardinals pay even further in the next at-bat when — thanks to poor communication in shallow center field — he popped up a stand-up double ball to bring another man home.
In the next inning, Bennett struck again when he knocked in his first RBI on a smooth double to augment Holy Family’s lead to 4-1.
The Tigers retired Siefken from the mound in the top of the fifth and, in the bottom of that same inning, he found new life at the plate when he knocked in two runs on his second double of the day. Andrew Syverson supplemented that effort with an RBI single to boost his team to 7-1 going into the top of the sixth.
The Tigers didn’t relent in that inning, either. Instead, they decided to send the Cardinals packing.
Jared Delgado led the final scoring tangent when he scored on a passed ball. Jaden Delgado and Syverson then hit back-to-back RBI base hits before, in the last play of the game, pinch-runner Dillon Dahlgren scored on a passed ball once more.
With the mercy rule regional out of the way, the Tigers will now set their sights on the state tournament. They’ll head to Pueblo next to take on the best of the best in Class 4A Colorado. The double-elimination competition is set to start on Friday.
“Our motto here is I let these boys play their game,” head coach John Ray said. “I don’t control their pregame. I don’t control their game time. I think what it means is they know how to play to win. They’re gritty, they’re competitive and I don’t have to influence them at all to go out and win games. They just do it. I don’t want to be overpromising and under-delivering, but I think they have the ability to do what all the teams at the beginning of the season set out to do. When they show up, we’ll see.”