ALAMOSA–Alamosa and Centauri high schools will be representing the San Luis Valley in Class 3A district baseball tournaments this Saturday on Colorado’s eastern plains as members of the field of 32.
The 13th seeded Mean Moose (13-6) will join host and fourth seeded La Junta (13-6), No. 20 Gunnison (13-6) and No. 29 Strasburg (6-9) in District 3.
Centauri (8-10), seeded 26th, faces a tall task in opening play with seventh seeded and host Lamar (13-5) at 10 a.m. They’ll be joined by 10th seeded Middle Park (16-3) and Buena Vista (11-8) in District 6.
Alamosa will meet the Gunnison Cowboys at 12:30 Saturday with the winner advancing to meet the La Junta-Strasburg winner for the championship at 3. All games are at the 22nd Street Baseball Field in La Junta.
Winners of the eight districts advance to next week’s double-elimination state series in Greeley, Friday and Saturday, with four teams advancing to the following week’s finals, also in Greeley.
Defending champion Eaton (18-0), winners of 10 state titles in 3A including five in the last ten years, drew the overall No. 1 seed with Faith Christian (16-2) at No. 2 and Bayfield (17-2) No. 3.
Moose coach Jason Romero said he was speechless when the pairings were announced Wednesday.
“I hope we all understand how great an opportunity this is and capitalize on it,” he said. “But we have to play up to our ability to move into the state tournament.”
Romero said his team has been practicing at Adams State’s field this week for more experience on turf as La Junta high school shares a field with Otero Junior College which features a turf infield.
“With Coach Capra’s (ASU head coach) help we’re taking a lot of reps and that turf environment is helping us a lot,” Romero added.
Falcons head coach Devin Smith knows about the tradition of Lamar High School baseball and hopes his team is up to the challenge.
“It will take excellent fielding and timely hits to be in it,” he said. “We’ve got to field the ball and hit.”
Smith said he’s scouted the Savages and knows that they can be prone to defensive errors, too, but are extremely aggressive on the base paths.
Centauri is led by senior Micah Keys, who has signed a college baseball letter of intent to Bellevue College (Neb), is batting in the mid .500s. Junior Jason Buhr isn’t far behind, just over .500 on the season, according to Smith.
Freshman Christopher Martin is the Falcons’ leader on the hill with an ERA around 6.20 and 23 strikeouts in just the past five starts. Keys is also a leader on the hill with an ERA around 5.00 and 32 Ks.
Lamar has a team batting average of .430 according to Max Preps and has outscored opponents this year 232-96. Ten hitters are shown at over .400 at the dish, led by senior Kodiak Ratzlaff at .464.
A sophomore, Darin Cook has a stunning 1.79 ERA with juniors Jordan Jara (34 strikeouts) and Brandon Reed coming in at 4.76 and 4.62, respectively.
Senior-laden Alamosa is led at the plate by Jake Heaton, one of two ASU recruits from the Maroons (Tyler Cerny), with a .532 average and .586 on-base percentage. He has 11 extra base hits and a team-leading 17 stolen bases.
Fellow senior Zach Meyer is batting .469 while junior Skyler Timmins sits at .452 with 14 extra baggers, including four homeruns and 27 RBIs.
Timmins also leads the Moose on the hill with a 2.67 ERA and 54 strikeouts. Fellow junior Bailey Garcia has a 2.77 ERA, fanning 32 batters.
Alamosa has outscored their opponents 177-106 with an 8-2 home record, 5-3 at home and 0-1 at a neutral site.
Saturday’s opening opponent Gunnison is 8-3 at home and 5-3 away. Alamosa defeated the Cowboys 11-9 at home on March 11th. Common opponents have included Buena Vista, who AHS beat 13-1 on March 21st and Gunnison topped 11-10 on May 1, and Monte Vista, who the Moose swept by two 10-run rule defeats. Gunnison topped the Pirates 16-2 on March 7th.
Individual stats for the Cowboys are not available on Max Preps.
“We know Gunnison will be improved from the first time we played, but then again so are we,” Romero said. “We made a lot of errors the first time we played them and our pitching wasn’t good in the later innings.”
“We can’t look past them,” he added, “but I think we’re peaking at the right time.”
The host Tigers, expected to coast past Strasburg, have outscored opponents 212-69 and went 2-1 with Lamar this season, defeating them for the Tri-Peaks League championship.
La Junta is led by Freshman Cole Bryant at the plate (.440), followed by senior Troy Schreivogel (.407), and sport a .344 team batting average.
Senior Dallas Oquist leads Tiger hurlers with a 2.28 ERA and 52 strikeouts, and is 6-1 as a starter. Schreivogel is 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 42 fans.