LAKEWOOD — Broomfield baseball’s title defense will come with its back against the wall.
The No. 1 Eagles dropped the opening game of the Class 5A double-elimination state tournament Friday morning, falling to No. 25 Cherokee Trail, 5-4, at Keli McGregor Field at Coca Cola All-Star Park.
After the final out, many of the Cougars players launched their hats and gloves up in the air in a Cinderella-style celebration. The Eagles players and coaches walked off disappointed, knowing they’ll have to win twice on Saturday to advance to the final weekend.
“We just have to keep playing hard,” said senior Luke Blackmon, who drove in three runs in the loss. “It was definitely a punch to the gut. We need to work on a couple things. Play cleaner. Better.”
The Cougars beat the Eagles for a second straight year in the state tournament, delivering the eventual champs a loss on the second weekend in 2022.
It didn’t matter then. Broomfield went on to trump crosstown-rival Legacy for its first state championship in baseball since 2012. Now, however, the champs, on the ropes, will need at least four wins to become 5A’s first repeat winner since Rocky Mountain won four straight from 2007-2010.
“Everything’s in front of them, and they know that,” Eagles coach Kale Gilmore said. “We just told them it’s all about what they do from here. How they react and how they respond. We have a resilient bunch of guys and a deep pitching staff. I told them if there’s ever a team that I’ve coached that has enough to get through what they’re facing, it’s them.”
The Cougars (15-11) opened the game with three consecutive hits off ace Noah Scott, scoring three in the frame. Broomfield (24-2) chased from there.
Blackmon’s two-run single in the bottom of the first cut the deficit to 3-2. But the Eagles left the bases loaded in fifth, part of eight stranded runners on the day, and got back within one again in the seventh — 5-4 — on Blackmon’s fielder’s choice.
Brendan Fritch, who was back from a month-long absence due to an injury sustained from a car crash, per coach Gilmore, lined out to left field to end the game.
It was one of the several barreled-up balls from the Eagles that found an out. When pressed about that fact, Gilmore said “that’s baseball.”
“I’m not one to make excuses but we hit more balls at people than I can remember doing in a really long time,” he said. “Some days that’s going to happen and today was one of those days.”
Back at All-Star Park, Broomfield will face No. 13 Mountain Vista Saturday with its season on the line.