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Air Academy baseball survives, joins school's other programs in title quest
LAKEWOOD - Air Academy can do no wrong right now.
Kevin Kimbrow’s seventh-inning blast bounced out of D’Evelyn left fielder Ethan Choun’s glove for a grand slam and the Kadets fought off an elimination game to power into the 4A final four with an 8-3 victory at All-Star Park on Sunday.
Kimbrow’s game-changing shot that was just one of many breaks that went the way of the Kadets (21-3). They called for an intentional walk with a man on second and one out while leading by one in the sixth – then promptly rolled up a double play. The Jaguars (17-3) hit a popup in the seventh that Indians’ second baseman Austin Cole lost in the sun, but shortstop Curtis Butler had time cross the diamond and corral.
Yes, this team – and school – is living right.
“I guess you could say that,” Kadets coach Bernie Moncallo said. “We’ve had some luck. But you have to put yourself in position to have some luck.”
Air Academy’s baseball team joins the school’s girls’ lacrosse squad (playing for a title on Wednesday) and girls’ soccer team (also in the finals Wednesday) in the hunt for a title this week. The school won the 4A boys’ swimming title on Saturday and the girls’ basketball team took the championship in early March.
The baseball team didn't want to miss out on what could be an unprecedented eight-day stretch for the District 20 school.
“We were playing to stay another week,” Kimbrow said.
It looked dicey at times on Sunday. D’Evelyn had back to back RBI hits in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead against ace Kevin Giordano. The Kadets answered with Trevor Goldberg’s two-run double in the third. Billy Shatraw, who pitched Air Academy to a win in the tournament’s first game, doubled home a run in the top of the sixth for a 3-2 lead.
That’s where things stood when the Kadets sought an insurance run in the seventh. They got it when Goldberg was hit in the hand with the bases loaded after narrowly missing a grand slam on a foul ball.
Kimbrow didn’t miss his, though it was just as close as it popped in and out of Choun’s glove as he crashed into the wall. Which takes it back to Moncallo’s explanation of his team’s luck. Had Air Academy not loaded the bases, Choun wouldn’t have been as shallow and might have had time to set himself to make a leaping catch.
Still, he came close.
“I thought he had it at first,” Kimbrow said. “I was rounding first and I saw him land back on the field and I got disappointed. And then I saw the umpire go like this (twirling his finger) and I was like, ‘Yes!’ I got excited.”
Air Academy will play Broomfield on Friday at either noon or 2:30 p.m. at All-Star Park.