Mac Padilla has already celebrated one state championship this season on the ice.
The next one the Regis Jesuit senior is after is on a diamond.
Padilla and the Raiders opened the Class 5A Baseball Championship Series with three victories May 24-25 and took command of the double-elimination tournament going into the final weekend.
“It’s been the best, I couldn’t have asked to a better start or finish to my senior year,” Padilla said after the Raiders’ 3-0 win over Grandview May 25 at All-City Stadium.
“Hockey was a no-brainer and we knew from the start we could win, but baseball was not a no-brainer. We did not expect to be here, but now that we are and we’re top dog right now, it’s a special moment.”
Regis Jesuit has a tough obstacle ahead when the Championship Series resumes as it will face Continental League rival and defending state champion Mountain Vista at 12:30 p.m. May 31 at All-City Stadium.
By virtue of finishing the first weekend undefeated, coach Matt Darr’s Raiders — who will look to avenge a 5-1 loss to the Golden Eagles in league play April 20 — are assured of playing in at least one of the potentially two state championship games June 1.
Grandview and Cherry Creek battle in the other semifinal May 31 for a chance to play on the final day.
“The teams that are left are great; Grandview is obviously a tough out, Creek is Creek and Vista is not going to go down easy,” Darr said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
For seniors such as outfielder Geno Macias, sitting in the position that all teams would be envious of is quite a change.
The Raiders hadn’t made it through the single-elimination regional round of the postseason for three seasons, including home losses in 2016 to Cherry Creek and 2017 to Broomfield.
“We’re ready to go after the title,” Macias said. “For those of us who have been on varsity for four years, we’ve been stopped in the regionals every year. Finally, we’ve been able to put the pieces together and come out here to play for a state title, so that’s really exciting.
“The great thing about this double-elimination format is that I don’t think anyone is going to be able to beat us twice to be perfectly honest.”
The teams remaining in the postseason, however, have dealt the 23-5 Raiders two of their five losses. Regis Jesuit lost to Cherry Creek and Mountain Vista back-to-back in the postseason, while Grandview took the Raiders to nine innings before falling.
Regis Jesuit bounced back to beat the Wolves and the Bruins on the opening two days of the Championship Series, so they will face a Mountain Vista team they haven’t played yet in the postseason.
Darr planned to use the week break in the tournament to formulate a plan of attack with his pitching. He’ll try to figure out the best way to deploy the Raiders’ deep stash of pitching arms that has been on point in the playoffs.
Regis Jesuit has four shutouts in five postseason games with senior Patrick Strawbridge and junior Jacob Thompsen (who got the win over Grandview) responsible for a combined 27 shutout innings.
Junior Chase Allen threw five vital innings in relief against Cherry Creek, senior Brent DiBiase is a seasoned starter and the deep bullpen is plenty ready after limited action.
“We have five great guys and then three relievers that I would trust any time on the field,” said Padilla, who backed up Thompsen with a big double play turn against Grandview.
“I never though we’d have this much pitching. It’s insane.”
Regis Jesuit will also use the time between games to work on its offense, which managed just two hits against Cherry Creek — with Mark Perchiazzi’s three-run home run helping tremendously — and finished with just three runs, all scored in the first two innings, against Grandview.
“We know we can be better offensively,” said Regis Jesuit junior catcher Craig Kenny, who went 3-for-3 against the Wolves. “We’ve just been a little off, but I know that we’ll be at our best next week.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports