AHS senior Alec Higel got the bat on the ball, but it went foul in Saturday’s district championship game with La Junta. The Tigers allowed only three Moose hits in the game.
Courier photo by Keith R. Cerny
LA JUNTA– Only one high school baseball team in each of Colorado’s classifications can finish a season with a victory. Unfortunately that won’t be Alamosa in 2013.
Wrapping up their most impressive season in 10 years, the Mean Moose (14-7) split in Class 3A District 3 action here Saturday at 22nd Street Field. The Maroons dispatched Gunnison, 10-5, for their first post-season win since 2003, before falling to the host Tigers, 11-1.
With most of the AHS team members sporting Mohawk haircuts, the Gunnison Cowboys may have been intimidated as the Moose built a 9-0 lead by the end of four innings, but just couldn’t seem to “stick a fork in them,” said AHS coach Jason Romero, holding off a late rally for the 10-5 win.
Two explosive innings, including the six-hit, six-run first, was all overall fourth-seeded La Junta needed in the 11-1, run-rule championship tilt. The Tigers (15-6) advance to the field of eight Friday and Saturday in Greeley and will be joined by two other annual opponents of the Moose, Lamar and Bayfield, both of which won districts easily.
“I’m really proud of the boys,” Romero said. “They fought really hard and came out swinging and did what they needed to do especially in the first game.”
Alamosa showed explosiveness of its own, notching five runs on three hits and one Cowboys’ error in their first game. Senior Jake Heaton led off with a first-pitch single, while fellow classmates Tyler Cerny and Zach Meyer both walked, setting up junior Skyler Timmins’ RBI fielder’s choice, aided by an error on the second baseman.
Starting pitcher Bailey Garcia, also a junior, ripped an RBI single and stole second, both he and Timmins scoring on Matt Benevidez’ two-out, first pitch double to left-center.
The home-team Moose added three runs in the bottom of the second when Cerny and Meyer again both walked. Timmins reached on an infield hit, Garcia hit into a fielder’s choice and runs scored on an RBI single by Alec Higel and Kevin Gutierrez’ sacrifice grounder.
AHS added another run in the fourth with Timmins getting hit by a pitch, stealing second and reaching third on Garcia’s second of three singles in the game. The Monte Vista transfer purposely got himself into a “pickle” between first and second to allow Timmins to score.
The final run came with two outs in the sixth. Timmins hit a single, moved up on Garcia’s base hit and scored when Higel reached on a fielder’s choice.
Bailey Garcia went 6 1/3 innings on the hill allowing the five runs on seven hits, walking just two while fanning eight. He was relieved by sophomore Dalton Carleo for the final two outs.
Gunnison’s top of the seventh rally saw four runs scored on two hits and an Alamosa error, three of those runs coming on balks.
“We needed to close them out in five (innings) and get some rest,” Romero said. “It was a hot day and we could have used more rest before the second game.”
La Junta, which won a close 5-1 game over Strasburg in their district opener, served notice early that the Moose would have their hands full. The Tigers six-hit, six-run first frame included four straight singles at the bottom of the order.
“We left the ball up in the zone that first inning and they took advantage of it,” the AHS skipper said.
Alamosa wouldn’t get on the board until the third when Carleo hit a one-out single and eventually scored on Meyer’s RBI single, his second base hit of the early innings. That was it for Moose hitting and scoring as La Junta’s Troy Schreivogel held the visitors in check, striking out five while walking just two.
Timmins suffered the loss on the bump allowing 10 runs (8 earned) on 10 hits, two walks and two hit batsmen in 3 1/3 innings. Carleo again stepped up to close out the game.
The Tigers put the game away in the fourth with five runs (4 earned) on four hits and two AHS errors. LJ’s Cole Brant led-off with a triple in an inning that was marred by a collision at first base between Meyer, playing first at the time, and senior Colten Williams that left Meyer with a bloody nose and Williams a sore knee.
Coach Romero said he will miss this year’s senior class. “They really bought into the program and developed into leaders.”
“We have a good core of juniors and sophomores coming back next year and with the pitching returning we should be competitive.”
Romero has entered his Alamosa team into a varsity league based in Pueblo for the summer and said he’ll resume practice in two to three weeks. The first games will be in early June.