AURORA | Luke La Flam’s future is in pitching, but he relished the chance to swing the bat Tuesday evening in the biggest of situations.
His work done on the mound already, Grandview’s Arizona State-bound senior hurler came to the plate with one out and two runners aboard in the bottom of the seventh inning of a tie ballgame with the Wolves’ Centennial League nemesis, Cherry Creek.
La Flam took a deep breath, stepped in and drove the first pitch he saw from Bruins reliever Gabe Austin over the head of the left fielder to drive in sophomore Garrett Lippold for a 4-3 Grandview walk-off victory.
“I’m not hitting next year, so I’m just trying to have fun and see how hard I can hit the ball,” La Flam said as he dried off from a celebratory dousing.
“Going up, I was just like ‘this is why you play baseball, this is why you’ve been playing it so long, this is why it’s fun,’” he added. “It felt good. He threw a curveball and hung it a little bit, so I sat back on it.”
Coach Scott Henry’s Wolves moved to 2-0 in the Centennial League Challenge and won their eight straight game overall — including two from Cherry Creek in the last week — as they continue to trend upwards with the Class 5A postseason ahead.
La Flam battled his own control problems during his five innings of work, as he walked five Cherry Creek batters, and Grandview made two errors behind him as well. The Bruins managed to score three runs off him, though he yielded just one hit and struck out six.
The Wolves trailed 3-2 in the sixth, but senior reliever Anders Lamphere came on and shut the door on Cherry Creek with two scoreless innings of relief to give Grandview a chance to rally. The Wolves tied it up in the bottom of the sixth inning and then had a chance to win it in the seventh.
Lippold, who missed executing a key squeeze play in the sixth inning, got an opportunity to redeem himself in the final inning. He stepped up and lashed the first pitch he saw into left field for a leadoff single. Junior Jayden Martinez pulled a ball down the right field line that pushed Lippold to third, though Martinez was thrown out trying to get to second base.
Sophomore Tony Castonguay drew a one-out walk that put runners on first and third and set up a potential inning-ending double play for Cherry Creek.
La Flam foiled the strategy with his long drive over the left fielder’s head. Lippold held at third base in case he needed to tag up on third base, but when the ball fell he raced home with the run that ignited a celebration of Grandview players in the middle of the field.
The Wolves close out the Centennial League Challenge and the regular season Saturday at Cherokee Trail at 11 a.m.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Sentinel Prep Sports
GRANDVIEW 4, CHERRY CREEK 3
Score by innings (r-h-e):
Cherry Creek 010 002 0 — 3 1 4
Grandview 000 201 1 — 4 11 2
WP — Grandview: Anders Lamphere (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K). LP — Cherry Creek: Gabe Austin (2 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). Cherry Creek hitting: Tanner O’Tremba 1-3; Isaac Kron 2 RBI; Tyler Schultz run. Grandview hitting: Luke La Flam 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Jayden Martinez 2-4, run; Jackson Vanzee 1-3, RBI; Tony Castonguay 1-3, 2B, run; Gunnar Foegen 1-2, run; Max Marshall 1-3; Garrett Lippold 1-4, run; Amari Smith 1-4, 2B