DENVER | Time after time in the 2014 season, the Regis Jesuit baseball team found different ways to win baseball games.
The Raiders couldn’t quite come up with a way to do it against Rocky Mountain on two separate occasions during the Class 5A Baseball Championship Series.
The Lobos beat Regis Jesuit by a single run for the second time in the double-elimination tournament, dealing coach Matt Darr’s team an agonizing 6-5 defeat Saturday afternoon at All-City Field (photo gallery, here). Rocky Mountain finished 5-0 in the postseason, while Regis Jesuit fell short of a victory that would have forced a rematch for the title.
“This team is resilient; they aren’t going to blink,” said Darr, whose team came just short of digging out of a 6-0 deficit.
“They had to take us off the field scratching and clawing, pretty much…Baseball is usually one of those games when the momentum shifts, you find a way to win. I felt like that would happen, but we just came up a little short.”
Rocky Mountain (21-5) — which beat the Raiders 2-1 in the opening game of the tournament on May 16 — had that momentum in a six-run third inning and ultimately stood up until the end.
The Lobos, who their fifth 5A state title in the past eight years, pieced together five hits with a walk, hit batter and fielding error to knock out Regis Jesuit starter Brent Schwarz, but senior reliever Zach Heath came in and pitched 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to give the Raiders a chance to come back.
The University of Northern Colorado signee ended the third inning with a pair of strikeouts to keep Rocky Mountain from adding on and allowed the Lobos just a single hit the rest of the way while his team scored at least one run in every inning between the third and sixth to get as close as 6-5.
“It wasn’t so much me, it was the people behind me,” said Heath, who struck out six and walked three. “I had confidence that my fielders were going to field the ball, we were going to have quick innings and get back into the dugout and score some runs, which we did.”
Rocky Mountain starter Carl Stadjuhar had been wild in the first few innings, but managed to work out of a trouble until he was knocked out in the fourth. Regis Jesuit cut a run off its deficit in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Reagan Todd to bring in Quin Cotton, though the Raiders had the bases loaded with nobody out and plated just the one run.
The Lobos went to ace pitcher Tyler Stevens in the bottom of the fourth after Zach Woodruff doubled off Stadjuhar. Jack Brett grounded into a double play, but Woodruff came home to make it a 6-2 ballgame and Todd — whose walk-off grand slam lifted the Raiders over Mountain Vista Friday — blasted a two-run shot in the fifth to make it 6-4.
Regis Jesuit had big scoring chances in both the sixth and seventh innings, but scored just one time. Brooks Urich’s RBI single in the sixth drove in Anthony Donovan to make it 6-5 and gave the Raiders runners at first and third with just one out and leading hitter Max George at the plate. George hit a foul pop-up on the first pitch and Stevens fanned Justin Thaxton to end the inning.
“We left a lot of guys on and I didn’t do my job getting that guy in from third, so this hurts,” George said. “We had a couple of opportunities to get runs across to tie or get the league, but it just didn’t happen today. That’s baseball.”
Singles by Matt Schmidt and Woodruff and a walk to Donovan loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Stevens induced a pop-up from Brett for the second out of the inning and Cotton’s hard grounder to shortstop turned into the final out.
“We knew we could get after Rocky Mountain and we kept them on the ropes, we just came up a little short,” said Todd, who finished with two homers and 8 RBI in Regis Jesuit’s final two games.
Given that his team made Stadjuhar and Stevens work hard, Darr felt great about his team’s chances if they could have come back and won the game. He would have been able to put Todd on the mound against a Lobos team that would have been short on pitching.
“They knew they needed to win this one here; he (Rocky Mountain coach Scott Bullock) gambled by bringing in Stevens,” Darr said. “Quin’s grounder goes a couple of feet to the left and we win that game they’ve used both of their best two pitchers, but we didn’t get a lot of breaks today.
“These were two great teams and as I told the guys, you have to be a little lucky to win a state championship. Our guys didn’t get the breaks, but they played the game the right way.”
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 State Championship Game
(7) ROCKY MOUNTAIN 6, (2) REGIS JESUIT 5
Score by innings (r-h-e):
Rocky Mtn. 006 000 0 — 6 7 1
Regis Jesuit 001 121 0 — 5 8 1
ROCKY MOUNTAIN (ab-r-h-rbi)
Cole Anderson lf 3-1-1-0, Dean Lawson 2b 2-1-0-0, Carl Stadjuhar p-3b 4-0-3-2, Tyler Stevens 3b-p 4-1-1-1, Kadin Breeze cr 0-0-0-0, Kyle Reisman dh 4-0-1-1, Zach Bartholomew cr 0-1-0-0, Trevor Thomas 1b 4-0-1-0, Garrett Hammer c 3-0-0-0, Nathan Elshiemer rf 1-0-0-0, Zachary Hahn cf 2-1-0-0. Totals 27-6-7-4. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): Carl Stadjuhar (3 1/3-2-2-2-5-4), Tyler Stevens (W, 3 2/3-6-3-2-2-2).
REGIS JESUIT (ab-r-h-rbi)
Quin Cotton lf 4-1-2-0, Brooks Urich cf 3-0-1-1, Max George ss 2-0-0-0, Justin Thaxton dh 2-1-0-0, Reagan Todd 1b 3-1-1-3, Matt Schmidt 3b 2-0-0-0, Aidan Cameron ph 1-0-1-0, Zach Woodruff rf 4-1-2-0, Anthony Donovan 2b 3-1-1-0, Jack Brett c 4-0-0-0. Totals 28-5-8-4. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): Brent Schwarz (L, 2 1/3-5-6-6-1-2), Zach Heath (4 2/3-2-0-0-1-6).
2B — Rocky Mountain: Cole Anderson, Tyler Stevens; Regis Jesuit: Zach Woodruff; HR — Regis Jesuit: Reagan Todd (1 on in 5th)