It didn’t end the way the Bayfield High School baseball team had hoped.
Two years after Resurrection Christian saw its season end in the regional tournament at Bayfield with a roster loaded with underclassmen, a more experience Cougars team returned to Wolverines Field and rolled past Pagosa Springs 11-0 in five innings to reach the 3A Region 6 championship game against host Bayfield. Two years earlier, Salida had eliminated the Cougars in the semifinals. This time, the Cougars left Bayfield with a ticket punched to the CHSAA Class 3A state baseball tournament after an 11-5 win against Bayfield in the championship game of the regional.
“Today was a good day to make it to that second weekend, the final eight,” said Cougars head coach Ernie Romero. “We have different maturity than last time we were here. Bayfield has an awesome team and a good bunch of looking athletes. Our guys were able to compete with them. I just know Bayfield is a good program. They like to win, whether it’s football, basketball, everything. They’re a good team.”
Resurrection Christian (17-6), based in Loveland, got out to a strong start with three runs in the first inning against Bayfield starting pitcher Hayden Farmer. But the Wolverines’ senior ace settled in nicely and held the Cougars to only three hits through the first four innings. But it was a two-run home run by Resurrection Christian junior Sawyer Shepherd that broke the game open and gave the Cougars a commanding 5-0 lead. That lead would grow to 8-0 before the Cougars were done in the fifth.
Farmer took the loss in 4 1/3 innings of work. He allowed seven hits and seven runs – six earned – while he struck out six and walked two.
“The had a good lineup,” Farmer said. “Once I got my stuff going, I had a good four innings, but I hung a curveball and the kid hit a home run. That two-run shot kind of put a dagger in us. Stuff happens, that’s baseball.”
Shepherd had hit a towering shot out of the stadium his first time up to bat, but the ball traveled foul. The second opportunity, he hit a no-doubt homer.
“It felt great,” Shepherd said of the homer. “It felt like I got momentum shifted toward our side even more. We shut them down after that.”
Shepherd was the winning pitcher for the Cougars. He went 4 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on three hits. He walked four, hit two batters and struck seven while being effectively wild at times and pounding a heavy fastball into the zone when needed. He said he trusted his defense to make all of the plays, and the usually did.
Bayfield answered back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and three in the bottom of the sixth. After getting within 8-5, the Cougars scored three more in the top of the seventh for insurance, and Jackson Romero locked down the bottom of the seventh with a perfect inning of work to end the game.
Bayfield’s big hits included a three-run home run from Ethan Morris, who was 1-for-2 at the plate with a hit by pitch. Rhett Hoover delivered a big double and was 2-for-3 at the plate. Farmer was 1-for-4 with a two-run double.
“We’re not gonna ever stop fighting,” Farmer said. “We knew that it would get closer at the end, but they hit the ball better than us and pitched better than us, and that’s why we lost today.”
Andrew Iwanicki was 2-for-4 with a home run, a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored for the Cougars. Resurrection Christian received two hits from Luke Ruby, as he had two RBIs and a run scored. He also pitched in relief of Shepherd for 1 1/3 innings. Romero was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. He doubled, scored twice and drove in a run. Zach Parrish went 1-for-3 with an RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
In Resurrection Christian’s 11-0 win against Pagosa Springs, Zach Cook pitched a complete game and didn’t allow a hit in five innings. He struck out seven and walked one. Paden Bailey was the losing pitcher for Pagosa, though he kept his team in the game through four innings of work. He allowed five hits and five runs – three earned – while he walked two and struck out one. Cook was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a walk in the win. He drove in two runs and scored three times.
Bayfield 12, Strasburg 4The Wolverines reached the regional championship with an emphatic win against Strasburg, as Andrew Morgan pitched the team to a victory and Max McGhehey menaced Strasburg from the plate.
McGhehey went 2-for-2 with a home run, a walk, a hit by pitch and had five RBIs and scored twice. Dillon Vroman was 2-for-3 and also was hit by a pitch. He drove in a run and scored three times. Jake Brandon was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored, while Hub Brandon was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run.
Morgan pitched four innings and allowed four runs on three hits. He struck out six and walked one. Hub Brandon pitched the final three innings and allowed one hit and a walk while he struck out three.
The Wolverines will lose a big class of seven seniors that includes the Brandon twins, Farmer, catcher Alec Demko, McGhehey, Morgan and Hoover.
Farmer said he is confident in the group of returning players and that they can continue the proud tradition of Wolverines baseball moving forward into the second year under head coach Bert Miller.
“Dillon Vroman, Shane Moore, Ethan Morris, they’re big-hearted kids,” Farmer said. “They’re gonna compete, and that what we do at Bayfield. We compete. I’m proud of all of us. It’s just tough to end it.”