LAKEWOOD | The Cherokee Trail baseball team was in the perfect spot going into Friday’s opener of the Class 5A Championship Series.
The 25th-seeded Cougars were looked at as the prohibitive underdogs going against top-seeded Broomfield, but still had the comfort of knowing of that a loss would not end their stay in the double-elimination tournament.
Coach Jon DiGiorgio’s Cherokee Trail team played loose, rode another strong start by junior left-hander Logan Reid and put last season’s defending state champions on the ropes in the first game with a 5-4 victory at All-Star Park.
“It’s a huge thing to get that first one and be playing later today, but we were ready to play and we wanted them, honestly,” said DiGiorgio, whose team lost to Legacy by a run with a chance to play Broomfield in last season’s title game.
“We’ve been waiting for that for a year,” he added.
Cherokee Trail (15-11) earned a spot in the 2:30 p.m. contest (weather permitting) against the winner of the game between No. 13 Mountain Vista and No. 5 Rock Canyon.
The winner of that contest plays at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at All-Star Park with the chance to take the driver’s seat of the tournament going into the final weekend, while the loser falls into an elimination contest at noon at All-City Stadium.
CLASS 5A BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCOREBOARD & SCHEDULE, HERE
Reid followed up a complete game effort in a regional upset of Legend just three days before with 5 2/3 innings of strong work against the Eagles, who had a 12-game winning streak snapped and suffered just their second loss of the season. Reid departed with two runners aboard and a 5-3 lead, as DiGiorgio went with sophomore Ethin Woltz to finish off the final 1 1/3 innings.
Cherokee Trail got things started with a three-run rally in the opening inning that started with a single from sophomore Akoi Burton and double from senior Bowen Tabola, while an infield single from senior Tommy Munch brought in both runners and Munch moved to second on a throwing error. An infield grounder by Charlie Boyd brought in Munch.
“It’s a huge momentum boost, especially in games like this when the nerves are high,” DiGiorgio said of the opening rally. “It makes people question what they’re doing and who they’ve got pitching and takes a lot of pressure off your guys. …That’s what we keep saying, get the lead, keep the lead.”
The advantage got shaved to just one run in the bottom of the inning, however, as the Eagles got two off Reid, who followed that with four straight scoreless innings. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by inducing a fly ball out from Broomfield’s Dane Most.
Reid relied a lot on his offspeed pitches as he had diminished velocity on his fastball in light of the short time between starts, but he gutted through it.
“With three days rest, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, but I felt good this morning and went out and gave it everything I had,” Reid said. “I always tell them to get a lead and I’ll hold it. Giving up those two runs wasn’t ideal, but we kept the lead, so that’s all that matters.”
Cherokee Trail added two big runs in the top of the sixth when sophomore Brody Ceyrolles — who has been a postseason spark plug for the Cougars — singled, moved to second base on a passed ball and reached third when a third strike to Zach Garcia was dropped and required a throw. Ceyrolles beat a throw home after Johnny Robledo put the ball into play on the infield and Robledo advanced to second.
Eagles’ shortstop Brady Todd then tried to get Robledo going to third base on Colton Gray’s grounder, but the ball hit Robledo in the back and ricocheted into the Broomfield dugout, giving Robledo home plate.
The Eagles got back-to-back singles and a hit by pitch with one out in the sixth and DiGiorgio lifted Reid after a run-scoring groundout with his pitch count mounting and Broomfield leadoff hitter Caden Williamson coming up for a fourth at-bat.
A sliding catch by Gray in right field ended the sixth inning.
Broomfield got a run closer in the bottom of the seventh, but Woltz got Brendan Fritch to fly out to left field with the tying run on first base to end it.
“They are the 1 seed, so getting off on the right foot was big for us,” Gray said.
Aurora teams finished 2-0 in the opening round as third-seeded Regis Jesuit defeated No. 6 Chaparral 9-1 at All-City Stadium (STORY, HERE).
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 5A BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
(25) CHEROKEE TRAIL 5, (1) BROOMFIELD 4
Score by innings (r-h-e):
Cherokee Trail 300 002 0 — 5 9 2
Broomfield 200 001 1 — 4 8 4
CHEROKEE TRAIL (ab-r-h-rbi)
Akoi Burton lf 4-1-2-0, Bowen Tabola c 4-1-1-0, Tommy Munch 1b 4-1-1-2, Braedan Reichert 3-0-1-0, Charlie Boyd 2b 4-0-1-1, Brody Ceyrolles 3b 4-1-1-0, Zach Garcia dh 3-0-1-0, Johnny Robledo cf 3-1-1-1, Colton Gray rf 3-0-0-0, Landon McWilliams pr 0-0-0-0. Totals 32-5-9-4. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): Logan Reid (W, 5 2/3-7-3-2-0-3), Ethin Woltz (Save, 1 1/3-1-1-1-1-0)
Caden Williamson cf 4-0-1-0, Tripp Bemis lf 4-1-1-0, Noah Scott p 3-0-1-0, Dane Most 3b 3-1-1-0, Luke Blackmon 1b 4-0-1-3, Brendan Fritch rf 4-1-2-0, Talon Hutchins dh 2-0-0-0, Nate Wochner ph 1-0-0-0, Brady Todd ss 2-0-1-0, Bailey Smith 2b 3-0-0-1, Edward Leins c 0-0-0-0. Totals 30-4-8-4. Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so): Noah Scott (L, 7-9-5-2-0-5)
2B — Cherokee Trail: Bowen Tabola. Broomfield (2): Tripp Bemis, Dane Most