Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
DENVER — The number of high school seasons that eclipse what Camden Ross has done on the diamond this spring can’t be many.
In a game predicated on failure, that impending reality seemed to never reveal itself to the Broomfield catcher during his 2022 campaign. It was simply triumph on repeat, all the way to the Eagles’ first baseball title in a decade.
“I’m just trying to have fun with it,” Ross said between bear hugs with teammates and fans Saturday afternoon as Broomfield had beaten city rival Legacy, 7-6, for the Class 5A state title at All-City Stadium. “When you have fun in baseball that’s how you succeed.”
On a picturesque day in Denver, the player with no apparent ceiling realized his pinnacle moment in high school baseball.
Call him Mr. 600 batting average, 5A’s first in five years. Or the best player in the state, which is something his coach routinely says. Ross made good on all the superlatives, driving the first pitch he saw from Legacy starter Senan Heys over the right field wall for an early three-run shot.
Legacy did its best to avoid him from there, tagging him with a Barry Bonds-like treatment of the early 2000s with a hit by pitch and two free passes.
In the sixth inning, the Lightning worked around him for the final time, choosing to instead load the bases with two outs for tournament superstar Gavin Speirs. A star senior who could only be considered under the radar on a team led by Ross, had three homers during the first weekend of state, then had the winning hit in the finale. His line single into right field plated two, putting Broomfield ahead for good.
“They intentionally walked him the first time and I struck out. I didn’t get the job done,” Speirs said. “But that time I was not going to let them do that to me again. I was not going to just let them pitch around Camden to get to me. And I made them hurt and made them pay for it.”
The game went back and forth prior to that. Ross’ 11th home run of the season gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Legacy then tied things on Clayton Shuck’s RBI single in the third and went ahead on run-scoring hits from Brandon Sanchez and Kieran Gaffney in the fourth.
After Broomfield had knotted things at 5-all, Braden Hollis’ infield single scored the go-ahead run for Legacy in the fifth. Two runs from Speirs set Noah Scott up for the win. Allowing just one unearned run in three innings of relief for the Eagles, the junior induced a groundout in the seventh with the tying run left on third.
Broomfield finished the season winners of 16 of its final 18 games. It had started just 5-7.
“We had our 2012 state championship team meet and talk to our guys, and they just started to come together a little bit more during the season,” Broomfield coach Kale Gilmore said. “You can’t win a baseball game on pure talent, or a championship. You got to have guys that love each other and want to play for each other. And this group really came together the second half of the year and they started to play for each other a lot more. And the results showed.”
Legacy finished runner-up, proving its best with its season suspended in the balance.
The Lightning advanced to the championship game with four straight victories after dropping the opening game of the double-elimination bracket.
In front of the pinnacle game Saturday, they redeemed their earlier stumble to Cherokee Trail with a comeback win that featured a five-run deficit and a diving catch in the outfield by Marcus Romero that preserved their lead late.
Romero sprawled out for another mesmerizing snag a few hours later against the Eagles. Leaving his hat in his afterburners, he covered what seemed like an acre of ground and sprawled out to rob Broomfield’s Cole LaCrue of extra bases in the fourth.
But that only quashed Broomfield’s rally momentarily.
The junior was on third when Peyton Malecha tried to beat out a grounder with two outs in the seventh. Malecha dove head-first into the bag but was called out on shortstop Dylan Harris’ throw.
“Our resilience” Romero said is something he’ll remember from this group. He quietly reflected: “Just being able to battle. Our mental strength. Never giving up.”
Broomfield, meanwhile, piled onto each other in celebration and doused its coach with water.
It was the program’s first title since moving up 5A in 2015.
“We’re going to have fun tonight,” Gilmore smiled.