Losing a seemingly stable four-run, fifth-inning lead Tuesday afternoon upon Durango’s Walden Memorial Field wasn’t how Bayfield High School’s baseball team would have envisioned entering the postseason.
But, in being able to pile up 10 runs before the Class 4A Demons upped their senior day count to a winning 13, and in being able to hammer Durngo’s pitching for seven extra-base hits – including a solo homer by senior Max McGhehey and a three-run jack by junior Ethan Morris – during the aforementioned first five frames, the Class 3A Wolverines still showed the explosiveness which regained the Intermountain League crown this spring.
“We were just trying to put up runs,” said senior Hub Brandon. “Didn’t come out as hot as we wanted to – it was kind of slow – but I think we’re in a good spot. I think we’re alright.”
“We were a little flat,” senior Andrew Morgan concurred. “But that’s pretty much it; we’re still ready, and that’s it.”
Having seen his bunch complete a 10-0 romp through the IML by traveling to and taking two from Monte Vista not even a full day before, Bayfield head coach Bert Miller knows that pride in reclaiming a league championship could propel the Wolverines into postseason play this weekend.
“We’ve got a great team, and I’m sure they didn’t want to go out – the seven seniors – not winning their league,” he’d said prior to departing Monte Vista’s Guttierez Memorial Baseball Field. “They showed it and played with their hearts all year.
“Those two games were very, very big for us. To go undefeated in league, hopefully, that helps us.”
Wednesday morning, it finally did.
Awarded the No. 2 seed in Quadrant C starting the 32-team CHSAA Class 3A Tournament, the Wolverines (14-9) will host the four-team Region 6 rumble and commence against seventh-seed Strasburg (8-9) at 10 a.m. Saturday in Bayfield. Seeded sixth, Pagosa Springs (10-11, 5-5 IML) and No. 3 Resurrection Christian (15-6) will battle at 12:30 p.m., and the surviving squads will clash at 3 p.m. for a spot in the double-elimination, eight-team state championship series.
Strasburg’s regular-season slate ended on a positive note Tuesday, as the Indians halted a six-game slide by pulling out a 5-4 squeaker at Estes Park, leaving each side standing 2-7 in the vaunted Patriot League and the Quadrant B Region 3-bound Bobcats 11-11 overall.
The Wolverines are confident in the matchup with Strasburg after their romp of the IML.
“It’s awesome to be league champs,” said Brandon. “We lost it last year, but we knew we could get it back. I think our defense is solid, and I think our pitching is coming around pretty nice. We just need to put the ball in play more, get some more timely hits.”
The tough contest at Durango also gave Bayfield a look at a playoff-caliber team, as the Demons also made the Class 4A regional tournament.
“It was good we were able to be challenged,” said Bayfield junior Dillon Vroman, who went 2-for-3 with a double and also scored the winning run in Game 2 versus Monte Vista. “We just need to be able to hit the ball better.”
In the wake of a losing effort which saw four Wolverines (Vroman, Morris, senior catcher Alec Demko, senior second baseman/pitcher Jake Brandon) rap two hits each and another (McGhehey) three, that quest for bigger and better will need to be as focused as ever, one through nine in the order, if Bayfield is to gain their program’s first state appearance since 2015.
Lamar, Salida, and, last year, Faith Christian had denied BHS’ three previous bids.
A TOUGH OUT: Resurrection Christian dropped its regular-season finale 7-3 at home to Brush, ending a five-game winning streak which began immediately after the Cougars threatened to not only win at perennial Patriot power Eaton (which hung on to win a 13-inning affair, 3-2), but then also looked ready to host and stun Sterling (which survived in eight, 6-5) just two days later.
The Reds and Tigers took second and third, respectively, in the PL while RCS matched Brush’s fourth-place 5-4 mark.
LOOKING FOR LUCK: Recipient of a no-decision at Durango after a decent four-inning start (he left the hill with BHS leading 7-5), Wolverine senior pitcher Hayden Farmer finished Tuesday’s contest a rare 0-for-5 at the plate, including a game-ending strikeout looking, leaving him 1 for his last 9 and now 3-for-16 dating back to Bayfield’s May 7 home loss to the Demons.
HUSTLE AND ‘FLOW’: Bumped up recently to the cleanup spot in the order, Vroman was worthy of the promotion. Dating back to Bayfield’s crucial sweep of 2018 IML champs Alamosa starting this month’s action, Vroman is hitting .476 (10-for-21) with no fewer than six extra-base smashes, plus seven runs scored and 11 knocked in.
“Dillon has a good swing,” said Miller. “I mean, he puts a good at-bat together every time he goes up to the plate.”
“I’m really trying to work on finishing at-bats because I hadn’t been hitting so well,” Vroman said. “So, I think that’s just helped, to keep a flowing swing.”