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Pine Creek can't hold four-run lead in seventh inning, falls in extras
Eagles alive in 5A double-elimination
DENVER - Pine Creek baseball coach Glenn Millhauser leaned over the dugout rail and stared out to the field as he spoke, looking at nothing in particular, absolutely stunned his team had just lost.
Pine Creek's players walked around in the type of daze that comes with dropping a 5A state tournament game in one of the most heartbreaking ways possible.
Pine Creek led 6-2 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, one out from a win Friday. After a run-scoring double, Cherry Creek’s Ethan Kang - who Millhauser said is more of a punch hitter than a power hitter - hit a home run to tie the game. The game moved to extra innings, and in the bottom of the eighth Cherry Creek scored the winning run on a wild pitch, taking the game 7-6 at All City Field.
“Tougher than I’ve ever had. Horribly tough,” Millhauser said. “I’ve been coaching 20-some years, had a lot of big games, lot of big ones with Air Academy, went to the finals with Rampart, been in a lot of huge games, and this one was by far the worst turnaround I’ve seen in a long time. We dominated them from get-go to that one swing in the seventh.”
Pine Creek is alive in the double-elimination tournament. The Eagles play Ralston Valley on Saturday morning. But the opening-game loss will be tough to forget.
“I’d say I was in shock,” said senior Ryan Warner, Pine Creek’s top pitcher. “But, we’re a good team and we’ll come back.”
Through more than six-and-a-half innings, Pine Creek played very well against top-seeded Cherry Creek.
Brandon Hesselberg led off the third inning with a home run to left field to get Pine Creek on the board. Dane Hutcheon reached on an error, Reagan Biechler singled to right, and then Warner doubled to drive in two runs. The Eagles led 3-0.
Warner consistently worked his way out of trouble when he did get into trouble, and when Biechler drilled a two-run double into right field in the sixth inning, Pine Creek led 6-2 and a win seemed secure. Biechler got a hit in all four at-bats.
Warner walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh, and with his pitch count over 100 and some left-handed hitters coming up, was removed for Biechler, a lefty who had done a good job in relief for Pine Creek all season. He struck out two of the first three hitters he faced, and then came the double and improbable tying homer. An inning later, the game was over.
“Everything that makes sense or is logical just didn’t happen that last inning,” Millhauser said.
Contact Frank Schwab: 476-4891
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