The state baseball tournaments began across the state Friday — and as per usual, it left out any sense of predictability.
Broomfield and Erie won the opening two games in its respective Class 5A and 4A double-elimination tournaments, each delivering upsets as part of its advancement into Day 2. Legacy, meanwhile, had been on the other side of this mayhem earlier in the day, falling to Cherokee Trail in the 5A No. 2-7 matchup.
So goes for rankings.
The Tigers came into the 4A tournament in Colorado Springs seeded sixth and quickly downed No. 3 Golden and No. 2 D’Evelyn. Hours later in Denver, the fifth-ranked Eagles finished up their Day 1 slate, beating No. 4 Valor Christian in a game delayed by lightning before ousting No. 8 Douglas County.
Both Broomfield and Erie can reach the sport’s final day, June 4, with a win Saturday. Legacy will need four straight over the next week to do the same.
“At the beginning of the year we were kind of up and down, but we knew we had this in us,” Erie coach Dustin Conley said. “We’re hitting our stride at the right time.”
Trenton Rowan homered in both wins at Vista Ridge High School, leading the Tigers with five hits and seven runs driven in on the day.
Rowan’s three-run shot was accompanied by a double as part of his three-hit game in an 8-6 win over the Demons. He then homered on the second pitch he saw against the Jaguars and later added a two-run double as part of a six-run fourth that helped the Tigers coast 9-3.
“He’s built for this moment,” Conley said of Rowan. “He’s played in these kinds of moments throughout his career in high school and today was just another example of the player he is. He works his tail off in practice and comes ready to go every day, and that hard work is paying off.”
He’s not doing it alone either. The Tigers have double-digit hits in five straight games after raking in 16 and 11 on Friday. Sam Stem had three hits in the opening game of the tourney, including a triple and a double, and added another triple in Game 2. Holden Pantier followed his four-hit game with another knock to push his hitting streak to eight games.
Against the Demons, Rowan’s three-run shot off starter Ethan Lewis tied things in the third before Dillon Alcouffe’s RBI double two batters later put them ahead. The Tigers led 8-4 headed into the final inning and Alcouffe relieved starter Darian Burnett to get the final three outs with the bases loaded.
In Game 2 against the Jags, Alcouffe and Kaveh Meredith combined to allow just three runs and two earned. Colton Rowan added three hits and Varek Van Aelstyn two RBIs.
The Tigers face Ponderosa in the winner’s bracket Saturday afternoon at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
“We’ve seen all the articles. We’re kind of mentioned as the underdog, the long shot to get here and we sneaked in,” said Conley, whose team was ranked 22nd in regionals. “(People think) we’re not supposed to be here and we’re here. And we’re playing ball the right way.”
Up north at All-City Stadium in Denver, Camden Ross and Gavin Speirs helped the Eagles roll.
Ross, looking to become the first 5A player in Colorado to finish with a batting average of .600 since 2017, helped that cause and his team’s with three hits and four RBIs in a 14-3 win over Valor Christian. He was later on base after a two-out single in the fourth inning of Game 2 when Speirs homered for a second straight game to put the Eagles ahead for good in an eventual 11-5 victory over the Huskies.
Ross finished the day with six hits, elevating his season batting average to .635. Speirs, meanwhile, hit his sixth and seventh homers of the season.
“Camden has had the best high school baseball season in the 16 years I’ve coached varsity baseball that I’ve ever seen,” Broomfield coach Kale Gilmore said. “He’s one of the best high school players I’ve ever coached. If he doesn’t get drafted it’s an absolute sham.
“And Gavin is an extremely talented player who kind of was under the radar a little bit. And he’s really gotten hot and is showing the world what he can do. He’s just a really solid player, has ton of power and the guys really believe in him.”
Broomfield didn’t let a lightning delay interrupt its offensive surge in Game 1. Speirs’ three-run shot fueled a four-run first before the 90-minute stoppage. Cole LaCrue, in his second plate appearance in an eight-run fourth, added a bases-clearing double to push the lead to 12-1 after it. It was more than enough for starter Noah Scott, who won his fourth straight decision.
In Game 2 against Douglas County, the Eagles scored three runs with two outs in the fourth to take the lead for good. After Ross singled and Speirs homered, Ashton Ross and Ryan Anderson followed with successive doubles to push the advantage to 8-5. The Eagles added three more in the sixth and Bailey Smith threw four hitless innings of relief to close things out.
Broomfield faces Chaparral Saturday afternoon at All-City Stadium.
“They’re loose and they’re just smart baseball players,” said Gilmore, whose team has now won 14 of its last 15. “And we’ve just taken a business-like approach … with solid pitching and good defense. And when we hit, we’re a really good team.”
Legacy didn’t have it as good. The baseball team that didn’t lose until this month will now look for another lengthy winning streak.
At Keli McGregor Field at All-Star Park in Lakewood, the second-ranked Lightning dropped their opening game to Cherokee Trail, 6-2.
The Cougars handed Legacy starter Connor Antczak his first loss of the season, raking five hits, five runs and four earned off him in a start that lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The senior pitcher was previously 8-0 this spring and had allowed two or fewer runs in his last nine outings.
The Lightning’s two runs on the board, meanwhile, tied a season low. Call it not enough answers against Cherokee Trail pitcher Tyler Wilcox, who scattered eight hits and allowed two runs in a strong complete-game performance.
Trailing 3-0, Brandon Sanchez, boasting one of the best batting averages in the state at .545, had an RBI single to trim the deficit to two in the third. Kieran Gaffney added his seventh double of the year in the fifth to get to 5-2. But that was it. Wilcox retired seven of his final eight batters to end things.
Legacy faces Vista Ridge in an elimination game at All-Star Park Saturday morning.