Assuming no catastrophic collapse next weekend, Bayfield High School’s baseball team will host Alamosa this Saturday looking to re-take what the visitors swiped last year: the 3A Intermountain League title. The marquee doubleheader will begin at 11 a.m.
With the Wolverines (10-7) and Mean Moose (10-6) both on six-game winning streaks and standing 6-0 in league with but one more doubleheader remaining for each team, pressure on each and every player this weekend will be increased, and nobody knows that more than BHS catcher Alec Demko.
“Last time we played them, we did not hit as well at the beginning of the game. We got behind, and after we left, we put in some younger guys and they got up on us,” he said, alluding to the April 6 encounter at the Brush Beetdigger Invitational, won 14-4 by Alamosa. “We’ve got to get hitting right off the bat this weekend.”
Set to take Wolverine Field one last time in IML play along with fellow seniors Hayden Farmer, Hub and Jake Brandon, Rhett Hoover, Max McGhehey and Andrew Morgan, Demko admitted emotions could play a factor in making or breaking Bayfield’s day.
“We’ve played together since Little League, all of us, and this’ll be our last home (IML) games in Bayfield together,” Demko said. “Guaranteed. So, it’ll be exciting.”
And if there’s a player able to appreciate the high-stakes nature of the games, as well as the thrill of a senior day salute, it would be a player who’s seen the sport at its most primitive.
“My second and third grade year, we moved down to an island off the coast of Honduras called Roatan,” the son of Todd and Maura Demko said. “Dad had a good real estate job down there, and down there they did not have any baseball. So, my dad and another guy down there that had some baseball experience started their own league: Four teams of islanders and kids, and some of the kids, they didn’t even have shoes They were playing in flip-flops, little cardboard gloves – it was a cool experience.”
Hooked permanently on the game, the Denver-born Demko and his family eventually returned to Colorado and put down roots in the Pine River Valley before Demko began middle school, allowing this season’s varsity captain to begin in earnest the development which will take him and his game out of state after graduation.
“There was a large invitational tournament in Arizona back during football season, and I got invited to go down and play,” he said. “And while I was there, the coaches saw me catching, and they offered me to come play for them.
“I was just hoping to catch the ball. Their stuff was crazy there. It was nerve-wracking. I was catching the best pitchers I’ve ever caught.”
Demko impressed coaches attending from Monterey Peninsula College, a member of the California Community College Athletic Association’s Coast Pacific Conference. By the same token, the MPC interest impressed the Wolverine receiver enough to personally investigate the school.
“I actually went and visited the college with my dad, and it’s in a beautiful place, has plenty of opportunity around the Bay Area, and I think I would love California,” he said, hinting at possibly pursuing courses in entrepreneurship and performing arts. “So, that’s kind of what sold me, the place and the program.”
After most recently thrashing Centauri 9-1 and 22-9 last Saturday in La Jara, one would have to say the Wolverines are set for another signature “We Play for May” push.
“I haven’t worried about where I’m going to be going after (graduation), so it’s helped me a lot to just not worry about it while playing and having fun,” Demko said of picking a college before spring practices began. “We’ve had a great season so far. I think at the beginning we were struggling, but now we’re starting to pick it up and I’m hoping we’ll do better than we did last year.”
COMPANY HE KEEPS: Bayfield senior David Hawkins will also play football for and study at Monterey Peninsula College. It was through Demko that he learned of the school, and the two will likely start off rooming together.
“We’ve got to find – it’s kind of expensive – two other roommates,” Demko said. “But I remember when he was looking for schools, we’d always talked about going to college together back in freshman year, sophomore year. Then we started realizing if he’s playing football and I’m playing baseball, it probably won’t happen.”
“I really wanted to go on an adventure for college, and Monterey – after I heard what Alec was talking about and he showed me some pictures – looked amazing,” Hawkins said. “So, I was excited, called them up.”
“I told him, ‘Dude, it’s five minutes away from the beach, we’ll have a blast,’” continued Demko, who first began catching as a junior-varsity freshman. “And he was like, ‘If I’m going to a junior college, I’m going with my buddy.’”