DENVER | Reagan Todd took it personally when Mountain Vista walked the two hitters in front of him in the bottom of the seventh inning of a tie game Friday.
The Golden Eagles most likely just played the percentages by filling the bases, but Regis Jesuit’s senior first baseman blew up all the strategy with an electric grand slam off Mountain Vista ace Nick Leonard to deliver a 5-1 walk-off for the Raiders at All-City Field.
Todd also had an RBI single in the first inning and drove in all five runs for coach Matt Darr’s Raiders (21-4), who got a sparkling 7-inning effort from senior left-handed pitcher David Peterson to advance to Saturday’s 5A state championship game against Rocky Mountain at 10 a.m. on the same field.
“I knew they were going to walk Max (George) like they did the at-bat before and then they walked Thaxton, so I took it a little personal,” said Todd, whose last home run came in the Raiders’ season-opener on March 13 against Arapahoe.
“The center fielder turned his back toward the plate and when it went out, it was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life. I knew we needed to go into tomorrow and I needed to help the team get there… I haven’t had a walk-off hit in a long time, but it was the right time.”
The Lobos eliminated Cherry Creek with an 8-6 victory Friday and remain unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament, needing just one win to secure the state championship. A Regis Jesuit victory, however, would pit the teams against each other again at 12:30 p.m. in a winner-take-all contest.
Rocky Mountain (20-5) won the first meeting with Regis Jesuit on May 16 when it outlasted junior right-hander Brent Schwarz, who is expected to throw for the Raiders in the first game on Saturday.
The formula to win in the postseason typically includes scoring first and Regis Jesuit did that against Mountain Vista, reaching Leonard for a run in the opening frame when Todd rifled a single to right center field to bring home George.
That was all the scoring the Raiders would get for the next five innings, however. Aidan Cameron was stranded at third base in the second inning and Regis Jesuit couldn’t cash in with pinch runner Thomas Jahde on third base and George on second in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Peterson was on his game in what turned out to be his longest outing in seven appearances since returning from a fractured fibula that kept him out for most of the regular season.
Following up a 12-strikeout performance in the Raiders’ win over Fairview on May 17, Peterson reached double figures in whiffs again with 10 against the Golden Eagles. The lone run that came against him was the result of a bases-l0aded walk to designated Dalton Lewis in the fourth inning that forced in a run.
Peterson kept Mountain Vista scoreless the rest of way, helped by his defense in key spots. Prior to the Raiders’ winning rally, a spectacular diving catch in right field by sophomore Quin Cotton on a drive by Golden Eagles’ catcher Brady Subart. Subart tipped his cap in Cotton’s direction afterwards.
Two Mountain Vista runners did reach after that — prompting a visit from Darr, who had Schwarz warming up in the bullpen just in case — but Peterson fanned Mark Mumper to bring his team to the plate.
“There wasn’t a plan to go into the eighth inning; I knew our offense would crack the system at some point,” Peterson said. “Lenny’s a great pitcher. It was a great game, but I’m glad our offense prevailed…My goal was to go seven innings and get the win.”
Regis Jesuit’s two-out rally in the seventh began with a Brooks Urich drive to right field that he legged into a triple. Mountain Vista chose to intentionally walk George for the second straight time and also put on Thaxton to bring up Todd, who drove a first-pitch fastball over the wall.
“When you haven two starting pitchers like that, momentum goes quick; I felt like we have it early, they took it back and nobody really had it for awhile,” Darr said. “When we won that game in the seventh, it happened just like that. Two outs, Brooks hits a triple and before you know it, the game’s over.
“That’s the way you have to beat a kid like that, you’re not going to piece a lot together.”
Darr wants his team to try to take the first game against Rocky Mountain on Saturday and then all bets are off. He confidently sends Schwartz — 7-1 with a 1.92 ERA — to the mound against the Lobos, who got just one earned run off him in six innings in the first meeting.
“I told them ‘let’s go win a ballgame, then the pressure moves completely on them,'” Darr said.
Todd wasn’t shy about his confidence in his team to win twice and bring home the program’s first state championship since 2011.
“We’ve got the pitching and we’ve got the depth; we’re ready.”
Added Peterson: “It’s going to be something to see tomorrow.”
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
Class 5A Baseball Championship Series
(2) REGIS JESUIT 5, (5) MOUNTAIN VISTA 1
Score by innings (r-h-e):
Mountain Vista 000 100 0 — 1 4 1
Regis Jesuit 100 000 4 — 5 5 1
MOUNTAIN VISTA (ab-r-h-rbi)
Mark Mumper 2b 4-0-0-0, Cale Sparks lf 3-0-0-0, Jack Strunc ss 3-0-1-0, Will Dixon 1b 3-1-1-0, Michael Dunnebeck 3-0-0-0, Brady Subart c 3-0-1-0, Nolan Lewis cr 0-0-0-0, Dalton Lewis dh 1-0-0-1, Cooper Shearon 3-0-0-0, Brian Froechtenigt 3-0-1-0. Totals 26-1-3-1. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): Nick Leonard (L, 6 2/3-5-5-5-7-7).
REGIS JESUIT (ab-r-h-rbi)
Quin Cotton rf 3-0-0-0, Brooks Urich cf 4-1-1-0, Max George ss 1-2-0-0, Justin Thaxton lf 2-1-0-0, Reagan Todd 1b 4-1-2-5, Matt Schmidt 3b 3-0-0-0, Aidan Cameron dh 1-0-0-0, Anthony Donovan 2b 2-0-0-0, Jack Brett c 3-0-2-0, Thomas Jahde cr 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-5-5-5. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): David Peterson (W, 7-3-1-1-2-10).
2B — Mountain Vista: Brady Subart; 3B — Regis Jesuit: Brooks Urich; HR — Regis Jesuit: Reagan Todd (3 on in 7th).